What Is a Meeting System?

Daphne Mallory

A meeting system is a technique used to make meetings, conferences or other gatherings of individuals go more smoothly, come to mutually agreeable decisions or otherwise accomplish a goal. There are many different meeting systems that are available for companies, groups or governmental bodies to effectively facilitate meetings. The meeting system used is often decided by the management of a company, or agreed upon by a majority vote within a group. A system can be structured or unstructured, and is often bound by certain rules and time constraints.

Meeting systems are often set up to insure meetings go smoothly.
Meeting systems are often set up to insure meetings go smoothly.

“Robert’s Rules of Order” is a common meeting system that is used by many companies and parliamentary bodies. The system was developed in the early 20th century, and employs a series of rules for how a meeting is conducted. Meetings held using Robert’s Rules of Order often have a chair or president who oversees the events. The rules govern who gets to speak, how long that person gets to speak, how items are voted on, and the order of events within the meeting. The system can be modified to meet the needs of a company, or amended by a government entity which uses it. The advantage of this type of system is that it often prevents lengthy debates from monopolizing time at meetings, and provides an orderly process for carrying out objectives. The disadvantage is that the rules are complex and lengthy, and therefore many employees may not be familiar with the entire system.

Meeting systems may include a large group of staff.
Meeting systems may include a large group of staff.

Open space is a meeting system which is much less structured, and is often used by a company at a conference, retreat or even a weekly staff meeting. Under this system, a goal or multiple objectives are provided in the beginning to attendees. The persons attending then break into groups and use creative processes to try to attain the goal during the course of the event. An open space meeting system is effective at getting most employees or attendees involved in the process, but the lack of structure in this system may not be appropriate for every company.

Companies that have employees in multiple geographic locations can often use an online meeting system. Websites or software programs allow a person to host a meeting over the Internet. These programs often have a voting system that can be utilized to decide on issues, and allow attendees to participate through Internet chat or through voice technology. The host can use this meeting system to mute phone calls from participants, and decide on the order of events and who can speak when. These systems often allow users to make PowerPoint presentations, show videos and use screen sharing technology for training purposes and to attain other meeting goals.

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