Updated: Sep 3, 2021
"A manager's ability to turn meetings into a thinking environment is probably an organization's greatest asset." - Nancy Kline
Some statistics show more than 1/3 of employee time is being spent in meetings, and nearly half of employees surveyed consider too many meetings to be the number one waste of time in their work schedule.
Conducting a great meeting exceeds expectations and is engaging, productive, and empowering. On the other hand, leading a bad meeting waste the time of everyone present, they're counterproductive, draining, and pointless, yet they take place every day.
I like to begin meetings informally with motivating and inspiring conversations or a brief, casual talk about vacations, hobbies, or something humorous to set the tone for the meeting; being relaxed shifts the atmosphere removing any tension. In addition, people are more likely to participate when feeling comfortable.
Great Meetings Provide Opportunities for a Great Experience
"Focus on the items where the team's input will change the trajectory of the work." - Liane Davey
When it comes to important meetings, preparation is non-negotiable. The idea that we're either preparing or repairing is accurate; our meetings will sink or sail on what we've done prior. Being more productive is all about being mentally in the forum before it begins. Make a list of the necessary topics that align with your company's principles and purpose, and your discussions will be more cohesive instead of you having to be more persuasive.
The most effective meetings are those we plan strategically; they tend to be more motivating and productive because of the efforts beforehand. I like to speak with key people while the meeting is still in the planning stage. I'm looking for ideas and valuable feedback as well as their perspective on the proposed topics.
John Maxwell, known for having "the meeting before the meeting," says he meets with key people before the scheduled meeting to ask and field questions. He also thinks through possible outcomes and responses to the issues he'll be discussing.
Maxwell lists five benefits of holding a meeting before the meeting: 1. Helps you receive buy-in 2. Helps your followers gain perspective 3. Helps to increase your influence 4. Helps you develop trust 5. Helps you avoid being blindsided (1)
Meeting Tips, I've Learned from Others
"The secret to a productive meeting is the presence of productive people" – JSP
Is this meeting necessary? If not, why waste everyone's time? It's disrespectful and counterproductive to call people away from their responsibilities without a good reason, and it also hurts morale.
Is there a clear agenda – What is it? Layout your plan; it should be specific and applicable to those attending the meeting. Highlight and prioritize each item. Address the higher priorities first, and the lesser time permitting. The objective is a definite course of action. Bill Gates says, "You have a meeting to make a decision, not to decide on the question."
Do participants receive the agenda beforehand? Once prepared, email the agenda to the participants. Sending the agenda one week prior allows everyone time to prepare and participate in the discussions.
How well are you Prepared? Try to set aside two 60-minute sessions for some quality think time at least one week before the meeting.
Announce the agenda and stay on it.
Conduct meetings as roundtable discussions, with everyone having a say. Allow for flexibility while monitoring conversations so they won't drift from the topic. Being fully engaged and mindful of time allows you to get people back on track seamlessly.
Start and End on Time
If your meetings don't start on time, your people will eventually stop coming up on time. Starting and ending on time respects their time. Try to be sensitive to restlessness, keeping the meetings short, relevant, and to the point keeps everyone engaged.
Close each meeting by going over the responsibilities of each participant. Then, have the minutes sent to participants following the meeting, personally connect with them for their input and feedback.
"Approach every meeting with a purposeful, high-energy, ready-to-make-a-contribution attitude and watch how fast leadership's perception of you follows your behavior." - Jack Welch
(1) "Leadership Gold" by John C. Maxwell Chapter 18
*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co.***