We sometimes have a love-hate relationship with meetings. We know that if we want high levels of communication, we need to spend time meeting with those who we want to communicate with. Otherwise, we end up running around wondering why nothing is getting done.
While I’m in full support of meetings, I’m not a huge fan of how some people run them. Keep in mind, I’m nowhere near perfect. I just have a few pet peeves that, if addressed, will make meetings considerably more productive. So if I were a bank robber, here’s how I would do it.
- Plan Like a Bank Robber – Just walking into a bank without a plan and robbing it isn’t a genius idea. Actually, neither is robbing banks. Way too many people have an idea of a subject that needs to be met about, but spend no time actually planning to discuss said subject. Set a time for YOU to meet with yourself to figure out exactly what it is you want out of the meeting. Is it just a brainstorming session? Is it strategic planning? Is it tactical hand-to-hand combat? Whatever the desired result, be sure you know it ahead of time.
- Share the Wealth – There is nothing more frustrating than NOT knowing what the meeting you just invited me to is about. I think it’s ridiculous to send someone a meeting request and not fill them in. Think about it. If I come to your meeting unprepared and you ask my opinion, I have to say, I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it yet. OK, let’s be honest, I’ll have an opinion. Wouldn’t it have been better for me to know it ahead of time, so I could spend time brainstorming and share what I’ve come up with on the front side? That gives us time to banter with everyone’s ideas.
- Don’t Forget the Getaway Driver – If you have to send people back to explain the meeting to someone you forgot to add as an attendee, then details will be lost. In the pre-planning process, be sure to invite all who need to be there. Over communicating is not a bad thing.
- I Thought You Checked the Vault – Finally, make sure that EVERYONE involved understands their roles. Before the meeting ends, go around the room and assign the necessary tasks to each team member. Want to take it a step further? Send emails to all who attended and ask them to email you back what they believe their roles to be. This will give you the opportunity to comment, add or take away.
These are just a few ways that I believe will make your next meeting more of a success. Try the above ideas and let me know the outcome.
Question: What tips do you have for making a better meeting?
23 thoughts on “Four Steps To Better Meetings”
Do we really, really, really need to meet or can this be sorted out via an emial or a quick phone call.
Once we confirm that the meeting is actually needed, lets start on time, and end on time if not a couple minutes before.
Be prepared with all your aids, handouts etc, and have a backup plan, it’s very frustrating when your nicely prepared slides go kaput, or the projector calls it a day and we have to stop since you didn’t print out some hard copies.
If you plan to follow-up, do so immediately not 3 weeks after.
In “tactical hand-to-hand combat” meetings I like to send the agenda ahead of time with a detailed list of items that need to be discussed. Sometimes with the actual time frame it needs to be discussed within. Example:
10-10:15 – Artwork
10:15-10:30 – Website launch
10:30 – 10:45 – Print Ads
10:45-10:55 – Social Media
10:55-11 – Discuss Action Items
Is that a little much?
Hahaha…not at all! Especially if you can stick to it. I like it!
I like how social media only got 10 minutes. =) I know some people who would cry out at that!
It helps me to type notes during the meeting that are visible to all on-screen. It captures deadlines and to-do items that we all agree to. If there are any items I have committed to, I link them to my calendar as tasks righ then. This way we have a live meeting minutes document that everyone has seen. I e- mail the notes tom the participants right away so they can add their items to their calendar. Listening and reflecting is a challenge, I often catch myself trying to elaborate my answer while the other person is still talking. I love the bank robber analogy. A lot of people just want to grab the loot and run without having a plan!!
I love it! I can see how that works really well.
I think sharing the agenda is so crucial. It’s rather annoying to show up to a meeting with no idea what’s going to be said. Especially when data is requested that would have taken seconds to look up if we had been given notice.
So true. It sets an unnecessary tone well before the meeting starts. Then you sit through the meeting thinking, they really could have let me in on this earlier. ☺
Ensuring participants know why they’re is critical, especially if you’re relying on their input going forward. Yesterday, I attended a meeting where my advice and counsel was needed along with several other people and none of us knew why we were there. I spent half the time trying to figure it out when I could have been helping.
That’s what I’m talking about. You probably could have had better input had you been informed. Well…not you Joel. You’re always solid!
Begin ON TIME!!! No sidebar conversations. Follow the agenda. Stop interrupting. Go in the order of the agenda. Spell people’s names correctly. THINK before you open your mouth, and then talk without all the ummmms and youknows, please please please?? (Can you tell I’m the recording secretary for an outfit?)
Sounds like you’ve been to a few too many unproductive meetings!
Follow up with the deliverables post meeting. Nothing credible will come out of a meeting unless we are intentional about measuring and following up with the decisions of the meeting.
Great post Chris! I love the analogy. My tip is to keep it short and sweet – stay focused. We also throw some cash around every once in a while – (if we’re brainstorming – a buck an idea) – it keeps it fun and engaging and doesn’t cost a lot.
Nice. The buck an idea is interesting!
It’s always a surprise, so they are always engaged – not that they have to be bribed – they don’t. 😉
I like it!
I’ve read this post right after I’ve read this one: http://goo.gl/xBPX7
Both excellent reads.
BAH!!! I love the cartoon!