Meetings, like death and taxes, are an inevitable fact of business life. Many, unfortunately, turn out to be a huge waste of time.
Instead of generating ideas, engagement and commitment, meetings often zap team members’ energy, replacing it with apathy and boredom.
What can you do to ensure your meetings are productive and useful – not just socially satisfying?
Avoid Meeting Failure
Unless you’re very clear about specific goals, you run the risk of wasting everyone’s time. A meeting should have at least one of four key objectives:
Prepare an Agenda
A finely tuned agenda allows you to outline your expectations and objectives. It can also speed up a meeting (unless, of course, the agenda is too brief or vague).
The following tips will help you plan your agenda:
The Leader’s Job
Some people believe their role as meeting leader gives them a license to dominate, while others approach the job as “schoolteacher” or “scoutmaster.” Committing any of these meeting “crimes” guarantees you’ll turn off – even offend – attendees.
In reality, the chair should be more servant than master, judiciously dealing with the two key components of successful meetings: topics and attendees.
Dealing with Topics
Clearly state the meeting’s goal at the outset.
Know when to close a discussion and move on. Perhaps a topic cannot be resolved because more facts are required, other people need to be present, more time is needed or issues can be settled outside the meeting. Provide a clear, brief summary before adjourning. Reiterate action steps and attendees’ specific commitments.
Dealing with Attendees
There will always be people who dominate meetings, while others remain passive and silent. Encourage a clash of ideas, but not a clash of personalities.
Reframe complaints as challenges or opportunities for improvement. Use humor appropriately, and keep the discussion moving toward its objectives.
Above all, don’t allow energy to fizzle. Seize opportunities to inspire people with questions and challenges.
I can help you organize and run meetings that are productive and focused. I have a few spots available for coaching in December. Call me right now.