Fire and emergency management/Leadership I:Strategies for Company Success (H803)/Running a Meeting

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OBJECTIVES[edit | edit source]

The participants will:

1. Discuss the necessity for having planned meetings.

2. Identify three types of meetings.

3. Describe the requirements for running an effective meeting.

4. Analyze a meeting agenda.

5. Take effective meeting minutes.


A meetingw:Meeting is an assembly of persons for a specific purpose.The following is paraphrased from William Carnes, an authority on communications and running meetings.

If you call a meeting, I'll have to be there.Whether you or I like meetings or hate them, we are both destined to spend some of our workday attending them. You attend my meetings (for your own protection) and I will attend yours (to find out what you are up to). You may complain and I may object, but we will go.


Click here to download Activity 1


As the leaderw:Leader, it is important to recognize the type and purpose of the meeting in order to lead others, get the task accomplished, and get the team to work well together. You and all other participants need to know the purpose of the meeting.

All business meetings fall into one of four basic types: informational, decisional, critique, or combination.

The perceptions and expectations of the group membership, if similar, can keep the meeting moving in the right direction. If the fire officer is having an informational meeting and firefighters think it is a decisional meeting, then unnecessary conflict or confusion can be present.

If the fire officer misleads self or others in thinking recommendations are being asked for (decisional meeting) but he/she already "knows" the decision that will be made, then there is more potential for conflict and confusion.


Click here to download Activity 2.


For further discussion on running meetings click |here

First requirement: Every meeting must have a purpose.[edit | edit source]

If the leader does not know the purpose of the meeting or cannot communicate its purpose to participants, there is no point in having a meeting. To determine the purpose of your meeting, answer these questions:

What are you trying to accomplish?

What is the extent of the group's control over the final outcomes?

Second requirement: Everything has its own time and place.[edit | edit source]

The time and place for your meeting competes with the time and place for doing something else or being somewhere else. It is simple to take care of the planning and execution of details with regard to the setup of the meeting. By neglecting setup details, you risk "being run by the meeting" rather than "running the meeting."

Click here for a sample Meeting Checklist.

Third requirement: Each individual is important.[edit | edit source]

It is vitally important that everyone who should be invited, is invited and anyone who should not be invited, is not invited. Prior to the meeting, take time to think about the attributes and likely responses of each participant. Plan necessary actions to best accomplish task and have good interpersonal relationship with each participant. Inform them you want them to know key issues. Solicit support or their views.

Fourth requirement: Prepare a meeting agenda.[edit | edit source]

Preparing a list of topics in advance to be presented during the meeting is a powerful leadership tool.

Fifth requirement: Where you sit or stand is important.[edit | edit source]

A lot of differing communication messages take place with regard to where a person sits or stands during a meeting. The most appropriate arrangement of table and chairs should be considered in relation to each particular group and its purpose for meeting. Meetings are most successful when members see each other face-to-face. When there is a large number of participants, or when the leader needs to assert more control over the meeting process, alternate arrangements are required. Being alone and center stage prescribes a not-so-subtle position of influence for the leader. In the circle arrangement, no matter where the leader sits, the influence by seating arrangement is equally dispersed among participants. When it is desirable to place some people on the fringe of influence, some seats are far removed from the center of mass or from the leader.

In summary, position is related to influence and where one sits or does not sit changes the environment of the meeting from an open environment to a closed environment. The leader needs to plan and execute the right environment according to the purpose and the participants of any given meeting.

Sixth requirement: Implement ground rules.[edit | edit source]

Fix time limits; start on time, and end on time. This is essential for meetings that occur frequently. Leaders need to listen more, speak less. Much can be communicated well when the leader uses good listening skills. Enforce listening strategies while someone else is speaking. Encourage those who habitually are silent to express their views. Override interruptions. Except for emergencies, the only interruptions to be permitted are visits (perhaps telephone calls) from someone who outranks the meeting leader. The time of many people and the focus on many items for this meeting deserve top priority. Adopt ground rules, as you deem appropriate.

Controlling problem individuals at a meeting is sometimes necessary for a leader. The following list categorizes some of these problem types and a possible method of effectively handling these disruptive individuals.

The show-offw:Show-off

Toss him/her a difficult question or say "that's an interesting point, lets see what the group says."

The argumentative hecklerw:Heckler

Remain calm. Agree with and affirm good points. Toss bad points to group for discussion. Heckler will be quickly rejected.

The rambler

At a pause in his/her monologue, thank him/her, restate relevant points and go on.

The enemy (personality clash)w:Enemy

Emphasize points of agreement, minimize differences.

The off-base participant

Take the blame yourself. Say: "Something I said must have led you off the subject; this is what we should be discussing."

The silent participant

a. Ask a provocative question.

b. Ask direct, easy-to-answer questions from time to time.

Seventh requirement: Put it in writingb:Rhetoric_and_Composition/Writing_in_Business.[edit | edit source]

Because memories are faulty and because sometimes you "kind of" have a decision but it is not really clearly defined, having to keep a written record forces clarification of the issues. Some procedures for summarizing a meeting follow. Appoint a competent person to take notes during meetings. Go around the group at the apparent conclusion of a key point and ask a member to summarize the issue points. Place those points on the chalkboard or flipchart, and then get consensus/agreement from the group on that summary. It will help, especially after "heated" discussions, to have as many group members as possible participate in the summary. The goal of the minutes is to be complete, clear, and brief. Record any desired actions that need to be taken. The most practical way is for the leader to assign someone during the meeting to complete the task and file a report within a short period of time. Follow through and check on the progress and quality of the work assigned.

SUMMARY OR MEETING MINUTES[edit | edit source]

Minutesw:Minutes should be prepared and distributed within 24 hours of a meeting whenever possible and/or appropriate. This helps reaffirm the importance of the meeting and helps reduce errors due to faulty memories.

These minutes should provide clear concise statements of decisions made, actions taken, actions to be taken. By whom and deadlines. Minutes can be divided into two categories, the first, action items, where decisions are made, agreements reached, and assignments made along with who is responsible and their target dates for completion.

The second, progress items, with information on what has been accomplished since the last meeting, what is being worked on, and what the next accomplishments should be and their target dates.


Click here to download Activity 3


The seven requirements apply to both small and large meetings. In small meetings it is more difficult to get tasks done and to keep personal relationships in good order.

There are several reasons why small meetings are difficult to manage. Small meetings are more personal; offensive words are more apt to be spoken. The leader seems inclined to postpone the start of the meeting until all participants have arrived. There seems to be more inclination to interrupt the leader. Two or more participants are likely to keep talking at the same time. The informal and freer atmosphere of the small meeting makes it difficult to adhere to rules.

Small meetings can take the longest time for even the simplest business. Don't be frustrated with the small meeting's inefficiencies but rather, plan ahead for the meeting. Use the seven requirements with freedom to deviate and direct the flow of the meeting without stopping the spontaneity of the small group meeting.

The "stand-up meeting" is one successful way to have a small, informal meeting. It can work well in a routine way such as at the start of a shift. The leader has the crew stand in a circle. There is no eating, leaning, or other distractions. Then, for 10 minutes or less, the leader refers to his/her notebook and disseminates information.

Brevity, informality, and simplicity of topics, make it appropriate for using the leader's notebook as the single source of the agenda and the written record of the meeting.

PREPARING A MEETING AGENDA[edit | edit source]

"Preparing a Meeting Agenda," is such an important tool for successful leadership in a group meeting that its basics and subtleties warrant special consideration. Planning ahead is a leadership responsibility.

Agendaw:Agenda_(meeting) basics follow:

• Date, time, and location shown

• Written in short phrases

• Items are listed in sequence

• Information is not sufficient to tell you much

Agenda subtleties are found in who controls the agenda, what is discussed and when.

Hidden agendas are usually controversial or personal issues that the leader or other participants have not openly expressed. Often feelings run strong on these issues, and certain members may want to modify the agenda, for example, by introducing proposals for "a solution" before the issue has been fully discussed by all. Competitive feelings between members, some situation that has been a previous point of contention, or the desire to take up a subject because of some personal attachment can all lead to hidden agendas. The best rule of thumb is to know that hidden agendas may exist. Usually, it is best not to permit someone else's hidden agenda item(s) to be part of the discussion. (For example, indicate that you want to stick to the agenda item(s) at this meeting.)

Click here for a sample meeting agenda.

WHAT IS YOUR MEETING IQ? ACTIVITY 4[edit | edit source]

Click here to download Activity 4

GLOSSARY[edit | edit source]

1. Agenda--A list of topics that will be covered at the meeting and the sequence in which they will occur.

2. Critique meeting--A review of the good points and bad points of prior actions.

3. Decisional meeting--Focuses on items that need input from the group before a decision is made.

4. Hidden agendas--Unexpressed personal or controversial issues.

5. Informational meeting--Focuses on items that people need to know.

6. Minutes--Clear, concise statements of decisions made, actions taken, or progress of on-going tasks.

7. Stand-up meeting--Leader gathers group members around him/her and using notebook covers the agenda. (10 minutes or less.)

BIBLIOGRAPHY[edit | edit source]

Harlow, D. "Getting the Most out of your Staff Meetings," Fire Chief. April 1987.

Keller, Marti. "Facilitators Say They're Meeting a Need," San Francisco Business Journal. June 24, 1985.

Kiechel III, W. "How to take Part in a Meeting," Fortune. May 26, 1986. Robert, Sarah Corbin. "Robert's Rules of Order," Glen View, Illinois: Scott Foresman 1970.

Schumacher, J. "Meetingcraft," Chief Fire Executive. March/April 1987.