Preparing for the Meeting
6 Secrets of Effective Meetings
If you have a safety committee, it's likely you'll have regular meetings. The challenge is to make meetings effective so that the outcome of the meeting ultimately adds value to the product or service produced. Thoughtful preparation by the safety committee chairperson is essential in making sure the meeting is successful.
When preparing for a safety committee meeting, the chairperson should make sure he or she has carefully considered each of the following essential questions:
- Am I personally prepared for the meeting?
- Is the agenda well-written and distributed?
- Does everyone know when and where we will hold the meeting?
- Are the location and meeting room suitable?
- Is the recorder prepared to take minutes?
Preparing the Chairperson
As the leader of the safety committee, the chairperson must be personally prepared for the job. Adequate education and training about duties and responsibilities is essential.
The safety manager or outgoing chairperson should be able to help a new chairperson learn how to prepare agendas and lead meetings. It's important that the Chair also learns how to objectively analyze and evaluate meetings.
Another important consideration is to elect or appoint a co-chairperson or deputy chairperson who is ready to take over if the primary chairperson can't make it to the meeting.
Preparing the Recorder
Be sure the recorder (sometimes known as the committee secretary) is adequately trained on how to take effective minutes. Usually, the safety committee Chair will train the recorder on their job duties. There's nothing worse than a bunch of disjoined chicken scratches.
Meeting minutes should include:
- Date of the meeting
- Time the meeting started
- Names of attendees
- Review of previous meeting minutes
- Corrections to previous meeting minutes
- Preview of current meeting agenda
- Changes to the current agenda
- New business
- Items to be held over
- Open discussion
- Next meeting date and time
- Time meeting ended
If the meeting seems to move fast, the recorder may want to use an audio recording device to record the meeting to make sure the minutes accurately reflect the topics discussed and actions taken.
Note: It's usually more effective to use the term "recorder" than "secretary" for this position. Members are more likely to volunteer for the job when recorder is used as the position title.
Prepare and follow the agenda.
Preparing the Agenda
Knowing the purpose of the meeting is a first step in preparing the agenda. Having a good idea where you want to be at the meeting determines what must be covered during the meeting. An agenda is a step-by-step outline of the points to be covered at a meeting. The chair should always ask for input to the agenda a week or so prior to the meeting. Everybody attending a meeting should receive a tentative agenda a few days in advance for the following reasons:
- to make sure important business is not over-looked
- to remind people of the meeting
- to help members identify important items and prepare to discuss them
- to help members focus on issues
- to encourage their contributions
- to discourage the thought that the committee chair wants to control everything
- to promote a sense of progress among members and others
Keep the agenda brief: one page, if possible. Most meetings should follow an agenda that includes some or all of the following topics:
- Welcome and Call to Order
- Introductions of new representatives and guests
- Review of last meeting's minutes for addition or corrections
- Review agenda items/topics for discussion
- Old business: items not covered or resolved during the last meeting
- New business: items the committee needs to address or resolve
- Employee suggestions
- Safety concern reports
- Formal observation program reports
- Survey/interview summaries
- Safety program reports
- Inspection reports
- Accident Investigation Reports
- OSHA 300 Log Report
- Recommendations to management
- Next meeting date, location, and time
Preparing the Meeting Room
The physical location of the meeting and room setup can make the difference between success and failure. Here are some points to remember:
- Location. Some committees find it most effective meeting away from the workplace so members are not as likely to be distracted by other work issues. A quiet, comfortable meeting room is best.
- Access. Be sure you coordinate access to the room. You don't want to show up with the door locked and no one available to give access.
- Room. The size and shape of the table, and the seating arrangement are important too. Make sure everyone can easily see each other. Windows are desired, as long as the outside is not too interesting. Committees up to 12 members could easily meet around a table. For a larger group, tables placed in a U-shape work well. All members should have easy visual and spatial access to the chairperson.
- Lighting. Try to make sure direct glare from windows or overhead lights isn't a problem. Try to have control over lights. You don't want a situation where all the lights are out when showing a video or slides.
- Noise and acoustics. You don't want to conduct the meeting where interruptions might be frequent; for example, meetings usually don't work in the lunch room or noisy part of the plant. Don't meet in a huge room with lots of echo.
- Temperature. Too hot or too cold is always distracting. It's best to keep the room on the slightly cool side so people are not as likely to be hot or sleepy.
- Air quality and ventilation. A humid, moldy, or unventilated room is usually uncomfortable and distracting.
- Seating. It's always important to have comfortable chairs. Be sure to allow for adequate personal space between members when arranging seats.
- Writing materials. Be sure you bring pencils and writing pads.
- Restrooms and exits. Review availability of rest room and emergency procedures.
- Refreshments. Providing goodies during the meeting is always a good idea. It sends a positive message about commitment from management. Light refreshments, especially coffee or other beverages, can help sustain energy levels.
- Audiovisual equipment. Be sure the required equipment, outlets, and cords are available. Visual aids assist in making visionary dialogue more concrete.
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