If you ask the average Jane, she will tell you that she hates meetings. Why, you ask, do meetings get such a black eye? If they didn’t work, wouldn’t people stop having them? Of course, they would! If you’re having trouble getting people excited about attending your staff meeting or your project meeting, here are some tips to help you make your meetings count!
Don’t allow your meeting to become a hideous waste of time or money. Meetings are expensive! Think about how expensive it is to have a conference call with 24 knowledge workers in attendance across five or six time zones. Prepare a thoughtful agenda, and send it to people in advance of the meeting. Tell them the problems you’re going to discuss, and that we’re going to decide upon actions to solve the problems in the meeting. Don’t hold a meeting just for giggles, only schedule them when necessary. Only schedule meetings when you’re ready to engage in real dialogue and make some decisions. Then do it!
Don’t invite the whole world, and don’t invite people just to “keep them in the loop.” Invite only those people who are well-suited to contribute to a rousing dialogue about the agenda and the problems we’re going to solve. You can easily “keep others in the loop” by cascading communications to the rest of the staff later on, in a summary email that documents the discussion, the decisions and the timeline for action from your meeting. That will be WAY more effective in keeping the team energized and informed, wouldn’t you think?
Don’t let a lack of clarity sidetrack your meeting. Have you ever noticed how often the conversation starts to get difficult when you’re discussing a challenging issue, and the air comes out of the balloon? Often, people suggest “parking this issue in the parking lot” which is a nice way of saying, “we don’t have the discipline or the guts to make a decision right now, because it’s not easy.” Take the meeting back and rebuild everyone’s spinal fortitude by restating what the problem is. Then remind them what the impact is to the business and what you’ve heard thus far in the dialogue. Remind them that we’re all in this together and we’re all on the same team. We want a solution to this problem to make things easier for ALL of us. Then reframe the conversation and reboot the team to come up with three potential solutions and pick one to implement today to resolve this issue, NOW! I have no doubt that this approach will be effective. My experience is that this works MUCH of the time!
I wish you the best of luck in improving your meetings. I hope that they improve significantly and become less costly and wasteful. Let me know how it turns out!
Michael Beach is a Business Advisor and Certified Professional Business Coach and a member of the Professional Business Coaches Alliance. Michael writes frequently on how to improve the operations of businesses in the technology sector, or any other business for that matter. During January of this year, Michael will be leading two half-day workshops in his offices in Prior Lake, Minnesota. The first workshop is designed to help you understand behavior and master the ability to work more collaboratively with others with less stress and more productivity. The second workshop is on choice management best practices, designed to help you to improve your personal productivity and effectiveness dramatically. If you’d like to sign up for either of these workshops send an inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org. Michael Beach Coaching & Consulting, “Delivering Ambitious Results!”