When you think of formal meetings, you likely think of a formal meeting with a predetermined agenda, strict protocols, and an appointed speaker who leads discussions. There could be a person who notes the meeting according to a specific structure and use formal language. These conventions may not be present in informal meetings.
The topic of discussion will determine the atmosphere and how people interact in the meeting, regardless of whether they are voting or chatting. For instance, a session with a specific topic of old business and loose ends is a great chance to discuss important issues that were previously left unfinished, and talk about the impact these items will have on future work. A meeting with a focus about new business plans would be a great opportunity to discuss the new initiatives and determine how they will fit into the overall strategy of the company.
It is crucial that the participants feel comfortable sharing their opinions during the meeting, and they aren’t worried about how their views will be accepted. If you observe that a person is hesitant to speak, think about broadening the discussion by asking them for their thoughts on an issue raised by another participant in the group. This will help keep the meeting focused on the ideas itself instead of an argument between personalities. It is important to keep the discussion on topic and ensure that a quorum remains in the room as the meeting progresses. It is beneficial to follow up with the participants following the meeting and request feedback. This will increase their importance to the outcome of the meeting.