One of the things that kill company workplace climate efforts is ineffective meetings. There is a myth that employees hate meetings. This is not true. They hate useless, purposeless, boring meetings. Research shows that over 80% of meetings in companies today are boring and ineffective. People like to feel productive and most meetings kill that faster than a snowball in sunshine.
These eight ideas alone can make a dramatic improvement in your meetings in planning, experience and outcomes. Considering the high percentage of people who view meetings as useless and boring, you have the opportunity to improve your organizational climate by making your meetings more dynamic and effective.
Clearly have a purpose for the meeting: There are all kinds of meetings. Leaders often make the mistake of trying to mix in several components into one meeting rather than having an effective meeting focused on achieving a singular objective. Leaders will mix in some project discussion, a company update, and some training or development into a single meeting. The result is the team leaves with favorite parts of the meeting or just confusion. Enhance your meeting by making the decision and commitment to a singular focus on what type of meeting you are having. Is it educational, informational, or planning, etc?
Carefully budget the time needed for the meeting: Sometimes managers will book a time for a meeting without considering how long the meeting will be. It's over when it's over, right? Wrong. When you set time limits and deadlines, they bring focus to what you are doing. Keep in mind that ninety minutes is about as long as participants can sit without a break. Having a set frame will build your facilitation skills as you challenge yourself to conduct the meeting, cover everything with participation, and close it strong within the time frame you set. Remember, meetings are like purses, whatever size you buy, you will fill it up.
Have a strong opening: Depending on what the purpose of the meeting is, you want to have some kind of strong opening for the meeting. It might be a quote, a video, a client testimonial, etc. Make sure your opening matches the purpose and outcome of the meeting.
Have an agenda distributed prior to the meeting: Make sure you lay out the agenda for the meeting according to its purpose and the time you have allotted. Putting out the agenda beforehand communicates to everyone why you are getting together and what will happen. This kills the anxiety people may have not knowing the purpose of the meeting and it will give them time to prepare and give some thought in advance to the meeting. This helps your meeting become more efficient since participants don't have to process as much information on the fly.
Don't be afraid of conflict in the meeting: Some leaders may not want to distribute the agenda in advance because they are afraid of conflict. Some may not want to address issues in a meeting for the same reason. This is a leadership sin. Conflict is good among teams as discussion well facilitated and handled brings better conversation, better ideas, and better relationships. You cannot deal with conflict effectively if there is no trust in the group. If there is no trust in the group, you have bigger problems than whatever the conflict is.
Make sure accountabilities are documented: Do not dismiss the meeting without reviewing who is doing what and by when. If this is simply an informational meeting in which you are debriefing your troops, this may not be necessary, but in project meetings, training and development, you need to follow mechanisms. This is the best one I know of for this.
Have a powerful closing: You need to put some thought into how you are going to close the meeting. You need to vary your closing depending on the purpose of the meeting. Again, you can use a quote, a video, or an affirmation to someone on the team, etc. One I particularly like is that all meeting participants must shake hands with each other after the meeting. You can vary this as your company culture allows.
Distribute notes from the meeting: You need to make sure that someone is taking notes during the meeting that matches the agenda. Sometimes, it's hard to take notes and facilitate, so you may need to designate someone else to do this. At the end of the meeting, simply take the original agenda and the notes for each item along with who is doing what by when and send it out to everyone in attendance.