With people spending from 20-60% of work time in meetings, the ROI on improving their effectiveness is huge. This month we focus on meetings, with assessments, tips to improve, actions to encourage and behaviors to banish.
Whether you convene two people or many, know why you're holding a meeting or don't hold it at all!
Here are good reasons to hold meetings rather than distribute information electronically:
- Build trust and confidence in each other
- Create clarity
- Align goals and actions
- Spark innovation
- Develop ideas
- Share different perspectives
- Strategize and plan
- Problem solve
- Bridge silos and disciplines
Assessing Meetings - ASK!
Whether it's a meeting of the board, or the leadership team, subcontractors, or staff, ask for feedback!
Ask everyone (anonymously if you have to) to rate their answers from 1 (NO) -5 (YES):
- Are these meetings a good use of your time?
- Are we productive?
- Are our meetings as good as they could be?
If your scores are high, carry on and share your secrets to good meetings with others.
If your scores are low, figure out what's working and what's not by using the more in-depth assessment below: Evaluate & Improve Your Meeting
BEHAVIORS TO BANISH or
HELL NO, I WON'T GO!
If you can't get rid of these behaviors, don't invite me to your meeting.
Meetings that start late:
Never wait for everyone to arrive. Insist that the meeting start (and end) on time. Don't waste my time if I'm responsible and arrive promptly!
Vacant stares and uninformed discussions:
Prepare and share or let me request an agenda in advance with specific action items, not just general categories. Don't tell me you didn't have time to prepare, or bring the same agenda week after week.
The Floor Hog and the Silent Suit:
Divide the meeting minutes by the number of people present and set expectations that each person take their share of time. Manage participation with comments like: "You have a lot to say on this issue but I've noticed that Bob hasn't said much and I'd like to hear what he thinks." Extroverts will grab the floor, introverts need an invitation to speak.
Confusion around decisions:
Create a visual center for attention. Track decisions and accountability during the meeting on a flip chart or shared PowerPoint for a virtual meeting. Don't move on without clarity on what we've just done.
Crushing innovative thinking:
Make space for exploring new ideas, even when at first look they sound crazy. Don't match the average statistic of 8 seconds for a new idea or proposal to be criticized.
Getting stuck in detail: Keep the meeting focused at the right level, even when people get stuck in the detail. Don't let us discuss the phone bill when we need to talk about the upcoming capitalization needs (even though everyone's more comfortable because they understand the phone bill better.) Agree on behavior standards and hold everyone accountable. Stay focused on what's happening now and use our time together to really be together. Don't distract me by checking your emails under the table;
Cross talk, Phones, Tablets:
Ask everyone to be accountable to keep the discussion on topic and when it goes elsewhere attend to priorities. Don't lose sight of what we've come together to accomplish.
Plan in advance how much time each item needs and allow for appropriate discussion and questions. Don't just list items on the agenda without thinking out the timing, and then rush from topic to topic, or leave important items untouched.
Confused endings: Leave time to summarize and clarify decisions made and next steps. Don't assume we all have the same understanding of what we just did.
Evaluate & Improve Your Meeting
Use the questions below to start the improvement process by understanding where you are now. There's a downloadable file at the bottom.
- Do you know why you're meeting rather than just distributing information electronically?
- Are the right people invited?
- Is there an agenda shared enough in advance for people to prepare and think about issues?
- Is the time planned out for each agenda item to allow sufficient opportunity to complete each piece of work?
- Does the meeting start on time?
- Are there explicit shared agreements on behaviors such as cell phone use, etc.?
- Is there an opportunity for people to check-in with one another before the content is addressed?
- Is there a clearly stated purpose for each agenda item (eg., a decision, brainstorming ideas, an assessment, etc.)?
- Do people take their share of time? (no time hogs or silent suits)
- Do people ask questions of one another and really listen for answers?
- Are new ideas welcomed and built upon?
- Are differences of opinion respected and discussed openly?
- Does the conversation stay focused on the issue at hand?
Closure and Follow up:
- Are decisions and next steps recorded for everyone to see?
- Do you invite final clarifying questions?
- Is there time for summarizing decisions and assigning next steps?
- Do you have a check-out process so people can make final comments about the content or the process?
A fable sharing key leadership lessons below and including great tips for meetings from a sales presentation to a team meeting to a town meeting
- Team creation
- Change process
- Meeting skills
- Saying no
- Trust building
- Developing staff
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| Good Meetings Have Rhythm
Just like a concert, good meetings have rhythm. Pay attention to having a real beginning, middle, and end.
- Check-ins to get people "warmed up" and ready to participate
- Statement of meeting purpose and outcomes desired
- Prioritized content aligned with company plans and goals
- Focused discussion with full participation
- Clear shifts from one topic to another
- Clarified decisions
- Summary statements
- Assigned accountability for next steps
Large Meeting Tools
World Cafe is a process for large scale meetings and they have great resources on their website:Downloadable Resources