How to hold meetings that don't suck

How to Hold Meetings That Don't Suck

April 21, 2014

One of my favorite ways to start the day is to get into the gym early. It doesn't always happen, but, when it does, it makes for a great start. I was able to do just that recently and ran into an insurance industry friend who I always see when I'm there in the morning. Normally, we start and finish about the same time but, on this particular day, he was finishing up just as I got started.

I said (more of a comment than a question), "Early start, huh?" His response was a very unenthusiastic, "Yeah, we have our weekly sales meeting today and it starts at 7:30."

Being a sales consultant and business coach, I couldn't help but ask, "Really?! Are those good meetings? Are they effective?"

As I suspected, he responded, "No, I hate 'em. There's no preparation. No agenda. Hardly ever does anything productive happen. I'm like everyone else – I HATE meetings."

Honestly, it's probably not that he, like most people, hate all meetings, but it's the bad ones we all hate.

It's just unfortunate that most meetings happen to be bad. It's even more unfortunate in that it really doesn't take much effort to create a good meeting.

There are dozens of ways to improve meetings, but I am going to challenge you to do just three for your next meeting – sales meeting, leadership meeting, department meeting – this is universally applicable.

Meet out of purpose, not obligation

Don't have a meeting out of obligation or without a defined purpose. Having a meeting simply because it's Friday or the second Tuesday of the month is ridiculous.

Have a meeting because it's required to meet a defined objective. Have a meeting to better prepare each attendee to be more successful in his/her role.

If you are going to pull your people out of the market and into a conference room, there better be a worthy objective to achieve by the end of the meeting.

Communicate that objective when the meeting is set and remind everyone of the objective when the meeting starts. Continue the meeting until it's achieved, and then stop the meeting as soon as it's achieved.

Tip – the objective doesn't need to be Earth shattering, but it does need to be defined.

Never meet without an agenda

Never ask people to come to a meeting without explaining in reasonable detail what will happen when they get there. It forces the facilitator to prepare and lets each attendee know what they need to do in order to contribute and benefit from the meeting.

Tip – an agenda can be as simple as three bullet points.

Confirm and Commit

The last two things that need to happen before everyone gets up and walks out the door are:

  1. Get verbal confirmation from each attendee that the objective was met.
  2. Each attendee needs to commit to doing whatever is required of them to further the objective of the meeting.

Tip – attendees aren't there to be entertained, they are there as participants. Ask them if they got out of the meeting what they expected, and ask them what they will do as a result.

Like I said, there are dozens of things that can be done to improve a meeting, but these three suggestions provide a solid foundation to significantly improve attitudes and outcomes.

And producers, if you are sitting there fuming over the horrible meetings your sales manager holds, take a minute to look in the mirror. Your prospect and clients could be feeling the same way about the meetings you request with them. Put these same three suggestions into play for your next prospect/client meeting.


Photo by Mark Hillary.

Kevin Trokey

Written by Kevin Trokey

Kevin Trokey is a coach and an implementer of business strategies. He works with agency leadership, department managers, and producers of benefits agencies to craft strategies and lead them to successful transformations by breaking down the complexity into manageable steps.