How many times have you had to gear yourself up as you enter a meeting room? Do you dread the boredom of rehashing the same subject or projects over and over again? Do you leave meetings unsure of which action items were agreed upon and whose responsibility the items will be?
“What makes a meeting successful is that everyone in the room is working as a team to have an effective meeting. It’s not only the leader’s job; it’s the job of everyone in the room,” says Vistage Speaker Doug Kruschke.
“Many people have difficulty carving up the meeting territory,” explains Doug. “But once you understand the three essential elements of every meeting, it becomes fairly simple.
These elements are:
- The task. This includes the issue being discussed and the desired result.
- Who. This involves the people in the meeting, the roles people play and communication styles.
- How. This consists of the meeting’s membership, decision-making processes, meeting methods and values and norms.When planning meetings, Doug recommends splitting the topics into four quadrants — important and urgent, important but not urgent, urgent but unimportant and unimportant and non-urgent — to determine the time to allot each subject.”Most meetings get eaten up by the important and urgent quadrant because it includes crises, pressing problems and deadline-driven projects,” explains Doug. “However, while this quadrant is incredibly important, it’s the important but not urgent quadrant that should be given the most attention.”If you don’t find time to address issues in the second quadrant, they will eventually become first-quadrant problems. The second quadrant includes prevention, relationship building, recognizing new opportunities and planning.”Creating Change
According to Doug, there are eight steps to initiating change in your business meetings.
- Start with yourself. As the company leader, you must determine if you are the source of problems with the meetings you lead.
- Target specific meetings for improvement. Acknowledge there is a better way, then seek to find it. This should come from other people within your organization as well as from you.
- Determine how and why it would be valuable to have effective meetings. Discuss this with people in your meetings. It they don’t think it’s valuable, you’ll get nowhere.
- Have a meeting about meetings. Ask people for examples of the best meetings they ever attended and have them detail what took place. Then choose which ones everyone likes best.
- End with a declaration that you want to improve your meetings. This must be made by all meeting participants.
- Be responsible for acting on your declaration.
- Create a “meeting effectiveness” champion. This person will be responsible for reminding meeting participants they have made a declaration to improve their meetings.
- Commitment. People must commit to working together to make the meetings more effective.
- Effective Meeting Methodologies “There are many common methodologies company leaders can use to ensure their meetings will be more productive and effective,” Doug advises. Following are a few of his suggestions.
- Use flip charts to write pertinent information.
- Create a results-based agenda that pertains to the meeting’s goals/objectives.
- Incorporate a co-designed process. As a group, determine what you want to achieve, what the barriers are, how you are going to overcome barriers and who’s going to do what.
- Get people involved. Have someone be the meeting recorder and rotate this responsibility to teach people to listen. It will force people to listen to each other, be clear about goals and make promises they are going to keep.
- Track progress and completion. Missing deadlines teaches that deadlines can be missed. You can negotiate a deadline if there is trouble, but it must be negotiated responsibly.
- Additional Resources
- Doug Krusche, president of INSynergy in Marina Del Rey, California.
- “The Seven Sins of Deadly Meetings” — This article from Fast Company provides tools, techniques and technologies to make meetings more productive.
- “Have I Died and Gone to Meeting Heaven?” — This article from Fast Company discusses some of the benefits of electronic meetings.