T-A-O – Tips to run a meeting effectively

Have you been to a meeting wherein afterwards you felt exhausted and lost? And worst of all, you just realized it’s late and you seemed to be out of breathe catching for your deliverables of the day. You have been to a poorly-managed meeting!

Image from www.gaebler.com

 Everyone knows how to run a meeting effectively because we have been doing it since our school days. Unfortunately not everyone is doing it right.

If you are the presider of the meeting, you drive and lead the proceedings. Here are some no-brainer reminders you need to take note 

1.       Time.
Everyone claims to be busy and has limited time to devote in meetings. That is why it is important to run meetings effectively and efficiently. Every meeting should have a definite starting and ending time.  If you scheduled to start at 7 AM, start at 7AM, not 7:30AM. As a presider, you have to be at the venue first. If it’s time to start and there are at least 1/3 of the expected attendees at the venue, start right away. Do not wait for others before you start. If you start the meeting at the scheduled time, late arrivals will definitely try to arrive earlier next time. Arriving late, without prior notice, is considered an insult to those who came early. However, if you make it a habit of waiting for the late comers, they will have an impression that it is okay to be late. You are simply tolerating their bad habit.
Allocate time to discuss each topic. Advice each presenter to stick with the time limit.
2.       Agenda
To have a written agenda is a must. It has to be distributed to the participants, days before the meeting. This allows everyone to prepare. The agenda should include the topics to be discussed, the name of the presenter and the allocated time.
Don’t let the meeting drag by discussing matters not listed in the agenda. People lose interest quickly if things move slowly. Interest is a fuel to a productive discussion. As a presider, if you notice that the discussion tends to wander off from the subject, remind everyone to stay on track.
The purpose of assigning in advance the presenter is to distribute tasks. No one person, including the presider, should dominate the discussion. Make sure everyone contributes ideas. Even the most silent people have something to share.
3.       Output
After the meeting, now what? Make sure that the meeting’s purpose is accomplished. If there are problems discussed in the meeting, make sure that decisions are made. If a follow through or separate meeting is required, every relevant person has to be informed about it. If there are actions to be taken, there has to be a way to check and monitor its progress.
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Remember T-A-O! TAO means human or person. Let the above tips remind everyone that the most valuable component of a team is not the machine or anything whatsoever, but the people. If a person came off short from expectations, avoid barking at him in front of other people. Even if your intention is to motivate the person and to toughen the person up, just don’t do it in public. What works for one person may not necessarily work for another. By embarrassing a person as a form of motivation may have worked in the ancient times but things have changed.
“People are the greatest asset an organization has and it is the only asset that appreciates daily.”

Lectern versus Podium – Who wins the Battle?

“Do you have a lectern?” I asked the staff. Judging from the looks on his face, he didn’t quite understanding what I was referring to. “You know, like a wooden stand where I can put my notes on top of it while I do my lecture…?”

“Ah… you mean a podium, sir?” he said as if he was awakened by a realization. Because I chose to obey my moral obligations that time, which is to be kind and tolerant to people, I said yes without further explanation.

Lectern and podium, are they the same? They are often used interchangeably but they are different.
Image from edwardhopkinsfurniture.co.uk

A lectern is a stand. Usually, it has a sloping top on it to hold books or notes. On the other hand, a podium is a small platform, on which a person may stand to be seen by the audience. Have you seen an orchestra? A small platform used by a person conducting an orchestra is called a podium. Have you seen the awarding portion in Olympics? The three adjacent platforms of different heights where the first, second and third placers stand on are podiums.
Image from southfloridaclassicalreview.com

Image from i.dailymail.co.uk

There is no documented history of when and why podium and lectern are assumed to have the same meaning. But I have a theory! I have seen a modern lectern with a microphone, a sound booster and a podium installed on it. Maybe, just maybe, when the first person to call it a podium, he must have referred to the platform base of the lectern. Again, it's just my personal theory!

But the dictionary says they are synonymous! I know. I saw that, too. Two words, even if they are synonymous, have hairline difference in meaning. For example, tired and exhausted are synonymous but being exhausted has a deeper meaning than being tired.

I have recently learned from a TED speaker who is part of an organization, which regulates words in the dictionary, that a dictionary also recognizes popular usage of words – even if they are originally incorrect. Words and their meanings evolve depending on what the society dictates. They may become eventually acceptable in the society but I believe it is also important to know their origin.

To remember the difference between a lectern and a podium and how to use them correctly, I imagine a battle! The winner stands up proud while the loser stays on the ground. 

In this battle, the lectern is the winner!

My Dates on Valentine’s Day 2015

It’s not a typo error! It’s with an S. 

Take note, it wasn’t a group date either. 

It was just one of a kind.

On February 14th, I spent my whole day at Leyte National High School in Leyte, Leyte. I was invited to be part of a seminar on public speaking. English teachers and student teachers were our participants.

It was no less than a Valentine’s date with a crowd so lovely and energetic. There was love in the air! With Doc Efren’s toast and the crowd’s cheering aka coercion, a married couple in the audience displayed their affection to each other through a hug and a smooch.

On a typical date, you only order a simple food because you have to impress your partner that you are a “cute” eater. My one of a kind date had buffet! That you to Ma’am Espina, the School Principal!

The scenery outside the venue was like breathing pictures of the nature's grandeur behind some haunting remnants of the tragic Haiyan typhoon. Some buildings were still bent, like figures of a tortured helpless creature, while the green rice fields were alive and they seemed to laugh and dance in the rain celebrating a brighter future.

Like the beauty of their school, I admire the teachers’ desire to become better in public speaking.

I never thought my Valentine’s Day this year could be so special.

I found love in Leyte, Leyte!

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Speaking of Public Speaking in front of Public Speaking Experts

Speaking of Public Speaking in front of Public Speaking Experts

“Hello?” I timidly answered the unregistered caller. It was Sunday and I was heading to church that time.

“Can you do me a favor?” the woman on the other line asked. The warmth of her voice sounded familiar. It was Ma’am Dorcas Mejia.

“Sure! What is it?” I recklessly answered. I know I shouldn't have said that right away, but I knew (or I assumed) she wouldn't ask me something I couldn't give.

“Can you prepare a presentation about the Do’s and Don’ts in Public Speaking? This is for the 3-day seminar workshop on public speaking. There will be around 600 participants, including principals, potential emcees and English Teachers from the whole Division of Leyte.”

Seriously? Me? She wanted me to speak in front of some experienced public speakers? Didn't she know that I am an Engineering graduate and she wanted me to talk about public speaking in front of people who are way more experienced and more knowledgeable about the topic than I am?

How will I handle such an ordeal, standing in front of some piercing eyes ready to devour a feeble creature like me, who’s a newbie in public speaking? Didn't she know that Filipinos, especially English teachers are grammar Nazis?
In short, I panicked. I didn't even listen to the rest of what she was saying.

Fast forward.

The judgment day came!

It turned out to be fine and fun. Actually, the experience was more than just fine. It was amazing. I really enjoyed it. 

And I learned a lot from the experience!

I realized that even Nazis are a bit forgiving.

Let me take this opportunity to thank all the participants for allowing me to share one of the things I am passionate about, public speaking. What I shared to them was so little compared to what I have learned from them.

I’m so thankful that God allowed my Toastmasters journey to come across some wonderful and inspiring people. Thank you to the brain and muscle of the event, Ma'am Dorcas Mejia. Thank you to Sir Juan Mitra for the trust. I think he kinda’ trusts me somehow because he invited me again to speak during their leadership training with students. Thank you to Gov Linda Lagera for the affirmation of my growth as a speaker. Thank you to Gov Doc Efren Canillas for allowing me to be part of your team. Thank you to Ma’am Ellaine Gavero for making me feel like your favorite grandson. Thank you also to Ms. Glendale, Mr. Macky and Madame Joyce for the warmth of your company. By the way, whoever prepared my introduction, kudos! That was so lovely. It made me sound and look worth-listening. My liver inflated! (Nibukad akong atay!)

For the transcripts of my presentation just click the below links:

Practical Public Speaking Tips – Do ENJOY and HAIL!

Practical Public Speaking tips – Don’t IGNORE!