Meetings, perhaps to contrary belief are necessary things. No only necessary, but can actually be effective and energizing. Even in this high-technology world of instant message, tweets and e-mail, we need some actual human contact from time to time to grow our organizations. Peak performing leaders do not waste their people’s valuable time in meetings that simply don’t matter. The worst of all murders is the killing of time.
Here are some thought provoking questions to ask yourself about your meetings and hopefully they will spark some ideas about how to tune them up. Your people will definately appreciate you for it!
Who’s the leader?: One question which will always serve you well is “WHO is the leader”? Someone comes to you with an idea…who’s going to lead it? Someone suggests a major initiative…who’s going to lead it? Why are our meetings non productive…who’s leading it? Only one person can effectively run a meeting. Any more than that creates confusion, which, by the way, is what you don’t want.
Where’s the list?: Agenda is kind of a crappy word. People associate that word with hidden motives, keep it simple…here’s our list. The leader just needs to create a list of items that need to be covered and share it plenty of time before the meeting so all can be prepared in advance…and, please stick to the list. If you want to leave time for brainstorming at the end, that’s fine…but why not make that part optional for attendees?
Is the list short?: Please keep it short, but powerful. Make sure the items are meaningful and have impact. Will everyone feel productive and energized after the meeting? That’s your acid test.
Are you focusing on the right things?: Do people have a say or responsibility in the things you have listed? If not, just tell them right up front this is an informational meeting, no imput needed, just an FYI for you. Is it a planning meeting? Great, you have some responsibility and imput so come prepared! Make sure you tell them what kind of meeting it will be, what their responsibility will be and what the outcome is you desire.
Are you meeting at the right time?: Please not right before lunch or right after lunch. Late in the afternoon, they are thinking about leaving. Not too early on Monday or too late on Friday. Study your team and their routine, it shouldn’t bee too hard to figure out when the best time would be.
Are you meeting in the right space?: For some, environment is everything. Is the room dull and boring? Guess what kind of meeting you will have? Good chairs or bad chairs? The wrong space just carries way too many distractions for your meeting to have any chance of energizing people. It’s ok to vary the place up, sometimes that works really well. Sometimes, with the right meeting, out of the office works really well.
Are you inviting the right people?: If your list is published well in advance and everyone knows what the meeting is about, those who have no responsibility of effectiveness won’t mind being left out, as a matter of fact, no one wants to sit in another meeting that means nothing.
Are you prepared?: If you, the leader or anyone is unprepared, the energy will leave the meeting like water down the bathtub drain. Enough said.
Can you be and start on time?: These seem simple and they are. Why penalize those who are there and ready by either waiting on you or others to get your stuff together?
Can you let people go from the meeting?: If someone’s topic has been covered and addressed, why make them stay through another 30 minutes of a meeting they are not involved in? Believe me, it might take some getting used to, but people really start to appreciate this.
If it’s a short meeting, why not stand?: If it’s 10 minutes or less, just have everyone stand. It increases energy, keeps the meetings crisp and precise.