These four things form the easy-to-remember acronym HOST. If you want to be a great meeting host, either online or face-to-face, remember to cover them at the start of every meeting.
- Hello. Greet the participants in a positive way. Introduce any newcomers to the group
- Objective. Tell the participants what the meeting is for – what is the objective of the meeting? For example, ‘we are here today to review the customer feedback figures and agree what action we need to take as a result' or ‘we are here today to decide the next steps on project X' If you can't state clearly in a sentence or two what the meeting is for, you maybe don't need the meeting. What about regular team meetings, that happen every week, or month, as a matter of course? You still need to begin by reminding people of the meeting's objective. In fact, it's these kind of regular meetings that often drift because they don't have a clear objective.
- Structure. How is the meeting going to be structured? If everyone is just going to chat in a random way for hours on end, then the meeting is unlikely to be very useful. You need some kind of structure, even if it's just ‘ we have six items on the agenda, and we'll aim to spend around ten minutes on each. At the end of each item I'll check that we've reached agreement on what to do next' Mention any other ground rules about how you will operate together, for example: ‘I will be very bossy and push us through the agenda, so please don't be offended if I keep the discussion pretty brisk.'
- Time. Tell participants how long the meeting will last. Check that the people who need to be there for the whole thing will be there for the whole thing. If the meeting is going to last more than an hour and a half, be sure to build in a break. Mention any other practicalities.
These four things form the easy-to-remember acronym HOST. If you want to be a great meeting host, leader and facilitator, remember to cover them at the start of every meeting.