Wake Up to a Better Approach to Meetings
Have you sat in a meeting and you wondered why you were there? Were you unclear about the purpose of the meeting? Did you find that nothing got done after the meeting? And did you even almost fall asleep?! If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you’re not alone.
Here are a few strategies for you to consider:
Before the meeting...
Communicate Purpose and Goals - Define what you want to accomplish. This doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Say to yourself...“The purpose of this meeting is to _______, and we need to accomplish ______ by the end of the X amount of time.” Communicate all of this in the calendar invitation. Not sure what you want to accomplish? Reconsider having the meeting.
Include the Right People - The podcast we reference below suggests making attendance optional. This is a very different approach, but it makes sense. Have the right people in meeting. Attendees should feel like they contribute and that it’s worth their time. They should have clarity and energy when they leave. And the meeting should produce results for your organization.
During the meeting...
Clear Brains - We’re all busy running from meeting to meeting and need a few minutes to clear our heads. A simple, “What are you hearing out there?”, or “What are you celebrating today?” is worth the time to ask. At Amazon, they start each meeting with 10 minutes of silent reading. That’s perfect for those times that you ask attendees to review a report before they arrive, knowing that they might not take the time to do that. Or, consider a quick ice breaker once in a while.
Connect with Purpose and Goals - After you’ve settled in, reiterate the purpose, goals, expected outcomes and length of time. It should be that quick.
Monitor Your Airtime - As the leader and facilitator of the meeting, challenge yourself to talk the least. That means “zip it!” Ask good questions and keep the conversation going. Ensure that team members are contributing and being heard. Ask for clarification, and note action items as they occur.
Take It Offline - There are lots of good strategies for staying on track. If it’s not urgent, one of the best things to do is to take the issue offline and schedule a few minutes with the right people to solve the issue.
Wrap It Up - We consider this one of the most important things you can do. Remember that you want people to leave feeling energized and that the meeting was worth their time. Leave yourself five minutes at the end of each meeting to recap what you’ve agreed on, and who will do what. Then send brief notes and action steps out to everyone.
I was inspired by J. Elise Keith of Lucid Meetings during this Awesome at Your Job Podcast - Making Meetings Work. She's the author of Where the Action Is: The Meetings That Make or Break Your Organization