Raise your hand if you love random meetings!
Okay, then, raise your hand if you love weekly team meetings. Quarterly check-in meetings? Client check-in meetings? Committee meetings?
If you’re like most people, you’re not a huge fan. And you’re probably frustrated with the lack of preparation, organization, progress, and productivity.
If you do have your hand in the air, you’re probably in the minority. Perhaps you’ve never been to a meeting. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ve learned the secret to great meetings.
Are all meetings bad?
Of course not. But a lot of meetings are. Which is unfortunate, because it really doesn't take much effort to create a good one.
There are dozens of ways to improve meetings, but here are three key things you can do to make your meetings less painful and more productive.
1.) Meet out of purpose, not obligation
Just because it’s on the schedule doesn’t mean it needs to happen.
Don’t waste everyone’s time by holding meetings out of obligation or without a defined purpose. Having a meeting simply because it's the second Friday of the month is ridiculous. Even if there are snacks involved.
Reasons to have a meeting:
- Your team is working collectively to achieve a specific, defined objective
- There are important updates to communicate, and it can’t easily be done via email
- The meeting content is educational and will better prepare each attendee to be more successful in his/her role
Reasons not to have a meeting:
- It’s Tuesday, and you always meet on Tuesdays
- You like getting everyone together just to catch up
- Someone brought doughnuts
If you are going to take your people away from their desks and into a conference room, don’t pull a Michael Scott. Make it count.
- Make sure there are worthy objectives 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 end the meeting as soon as it's achieved.
Tip: Meetings don’t automatically need default to an hour. If you’ve got 20 minutes of material to cover, schedule 20 minutes.
2.) Always have an agenda
Never ask people to come to a meeting without explaining in reasonable detail what will happen when they get there.
This 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: The agenda doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as three bullet points.
NOTE: Going around the room and letting everyone talk for 5 or 10 minutes is NOT an agenda. If you like these kinds of meetings, start a club or join a support group.
3.) Confirm and Commit
Get confirmation on who is coming to the meeting before it happens. Everyone on the invite list should be critical to the objectives, so if one person is missing, your meeting could be a waste of time. If you know that key people can’t make it, you can cancel the meeting ahead of time and spare everyone the pain.
You should also confirm at the end of the meeting. Before everyone gets up and walks out the door:
- Get verbal confirmation from each attendee that the objective was met.
- Make sure everyone understands and commits 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 to participate and contribute. Ask them if they got what they expected out of the meeting, and confirm what they will do as a result.
Working your way toward better meetings
These three things will help provide a solid foundation to significantly improve meeting attitudes and outcomes.
If you’re still sitting there fuming over the horrible meetings you have to attend, take a minute to look in the mirror. Your colleagues, prospects, and clients could be feeling the same way about the meetings you are having with them.
Photo by ANTONIO BALAGUER SOLER