How to Run Effective Meetings Part 1
Meetings!!! Stop the madness!
Too many meetings with too little result.
There are few things that strike terror into leaders and managers like the dreaded…MEETING. Okay, maybe not terror. Maybe it’s just apathy, frustration, and irritation. Every leader I know is required to attend countless meetings, and many of those meetings are either poorly done, or a total waste of time. It’s interesting to me that so many employee hours can be invested in any single activity and so little time actually goes into ensuring effectiveness.
Over this post and the next we are going to take a look at the simple, yet essential, steps to effective meetings. I hope all of our readers will subscribe to the Transforming Leadership Podcast. In a two-part podcast you will find each of these steps covered more thoroughly.
We have looked at several recommended meeting outlines, so I confess up front that our recommendations are a conglomeration of our findings. In this case there really is “nothing new under the sun.”
Best Practices for Meetings.
We use, an 8-Step Outline for meetings. Before diving into the outline though there is a critical “pre-step.” That is determining exactly who needs to be a part of the meeting. Who is going to contribute and who needs to be a part of the discussion. If there are those that will benefit from the outcome of the meeting but are neither contributing nor required for the discussion, their time may be better spent somewhere else, and they can simply receive a copy of the meeting notes after the work is done. In other words, including them in the meeting is INEFFECTIVE.
On to the outline:
- Pre-Publish An Agenda
- Use a Facilitator
- Start On Time
- Stick To Your Agenda
- Use a Kitchen Counter
- Fix Responsibilities
- Finish On Time
- Publish Notes
The pre-published Agenda is vital. This Agenda allows the invitees to determine whether the meeting is an effective use of their time, or whether that time might be better spent elsewhere. I assume a high-trust environment in your workplace, and in this high-trust environment it is reasonable for your directs to come to you should they question their part in the meeting. Additionally, the pre-published Agenda ensures that “this is what will be discussed, and this is all that will be discussed.” The Agenda also includes: who the presenters are, start and stop times, and timeline for the meeting.
Use A Facilitator
The Facilitator is the traffic director. The facilitator ensures that the schedule/agenda is kept and fixes responsibilities for each agenda item. Fixed responsibility means: WHO will do WHAT by WHEN. The use of a Facilitator also relieves this responsibility from the leaders, so that they can focus on the content of the meeting instead of the timeline and the process.
Start on Time
We build our organizational culture by repeated behaviors. ALWAYS start on time. Don’t wait for anyone. Starting on time shows respect for those that were respectful and conscientious enough to arrive on time, and it builds effectiveness. Failure to start on time sends the message that some are more important than others, and that we accept sloppy standards.
Additionally, ignore latecomers. Drawing attention to latecomers breaks the flow of the meeting, and in some cases rewards bad behavior. Remember, your meeting behavior is a critical to your corporate cultural.
This is a good start. Be sure to check out the blog next week for the final steps. Also, go to iTunes and subscribe to the Transforming Leadership Podcast. I know you will find the podcast both informative and entertaining.