Quickly and Simply Transform All Meetings
If you could only get back the time you gave to boring, ineffective, useless meetings!
Meetings give the impression something’s getting done when usually it isn’t.
There’s too much talking in meeting
because people aren’t focused on doing.
One rule transforms every meeting from ineffective to effective.
Mercilessly cut everything that isn’t connected to action.
Three functions of rule one:
Every agenda item must do at least one of three things:
- Enhance efficiency – improve action.
- Generate assignments – create action.
- Stop ineffectiveness and/or inefficiency – prevent action.
Guidelines for rule one:
- All “information-giving” must clearly inform action. Always explain the connection to doing.
- Determine options for action, when you’re problem solving and innovating, then give assignments.
- Don’t spend so much time improving things you haven’t done yet. Do something; improve as you go.
- Explore what isn’t working and improve it or end it. Organizations that don’t end ineffectiveness and inefficiency eventually become paralyzed beasts.
- Shorten the length of time one person is allowed to talk.
- All presentations must be clearly relevant to action. If it’s not relevant to action, it’s irrelevant.
- Create short slots of time for agenda items. “We have ten minutes to find three potential improvements for employee training,” for example.
- Before ending meetings, always ask, “Who has assignments and what are they? What’s the timeline.?”
One exception to rule one:
Take a few minutes to share what’s going on in life outside work. Give people time to connect if you expect them to connect. Use a portion of your meeting to strengthening relationships within the team.
What would transform the meetings you attend or lead?
All great points Dan.
The biggest helps to almost any meeting I attend would be having a fixed agenda, fixed time, and accountability for what is actually to be done between meetings.
Thanks Martina… useful points… I’m a huge fan of “fixed time” It could almost always be shorter.
You’ve nailed the key “meeting transforming” issues in the very first response to Dan’s post today. The only tiny addition I could make is that people attending the meeting honor the fixed time — be there on time (respect other attendees’ time by not making them wait for you). Thanks!
At some point I am going to put together training for how to conduct a meeting.
What’s missing from most meetings I attend?
This makes it tough to stay on topic, difficult to finish on time, and easy to feel like we just wasted a lot of time.
I try, I TRY not to lead meetings like they must have military precision but I do shut down irrelevant conversation, especially if we’re tight on time, and I do write down a “parking lot” for us to review outside the meeting.
My observation is that individuals do not see meetings as opportunities to connect though. I listen to the ideas of others, reach out to them outside of the meetings if we’re in different departments. I have people in my network whose primary interaction is through conference calls.
Meetings are seen as wasted time because we waste the time.
“Meetings are seen as wasted time because we waste the time.” KaChing! Self evident truths are the best… 🙂
Thanks for bringing up the point that meetings often instigate connections after the meeting.
Alrighty then!!!!!!!!!!! Now we are talking!!!!!!!!!!!! I HIGHLY RECOMMEND watching Frank Kern’s Slide Guitar video on YouTube! HIGHLY RECOMMEND! FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Why him? He and his buddies sold 24 million dollars worth of their stuff on the internet in one day.
Till you do that or more then do what he does. When you outproduce him with results of your own what he does is better than yours. Get humble, watch, listen, learn and apply. Can I make it ANY simpler than that, really?
Then one day if you do something that produces amazing results we will copy you. Till then HUMBLE yourself and copy the folks who get amazing results and watch yours grow and grow and grow.
Why is that important? Well OBVIOUSLY the meetings and preparation they used WORKED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Why waste your time messing around? Look to the people getting MASSIVE results and COPY THEIR thoughts, actions, words. Meeting agendas yada yada yada!
Results not ingredients,
Ok so if you won’t watch his video and absorb something really useful to yas………….here is what he says
1. Here is what I got
2.Here is what it will do for you
3. Here is what I need you to do next.
There is your meeting agenda, short simple sweet. Remember people are massively self-obsessed with themselves and have the attention span of a flea. If you are leading a meeting and you take too long they ALL THEY TUNE YOU OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hey don’t take it personal but to THEM you are not really all that interesting!!!!!!!!!!! hehe
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND HUMOR and keeping stuff short and simple.
I gave a presentation/meeting recently and the owner of the business called my supervisor and told him she just witnessed the best presentation she ever saw.40 years in business as she said that about what I do!!!!!!! Not saying that to brag(much) just to give you cause to LISTEN to what I am sharing cause I only do it in the hope it helps you.
I share that compliment to hopefully let you know that what I do works, not just theory out there in the ether somewhere.
Ok Sports Fans, till next time open your minds there is a wonderful world out here outside the box!!!!!!!!!!!!
Dude Abides and Frank Kern looks like the Dude!!!!!!!!!!!!! Check him out and when you think you are really ready, check out his core influence video, you will never be the same!!!!
SP OUTTA HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wish there was a place for the down thumpers to explain what they don’t like!!
I am a curious fella and just shared Results, caring, humor and following a path someone already blazed to success. I realize using money as a yardstick could be seen as shallow but it can be used as a yardstick to evaluate a theory.
I am just curious what the down thumber did not like.
The following a proven result oriented path?
Sharing cause you care?
Just curious which of those the down thumber finds so objectionable. Hehe
Years ago, we started the practice of yelling “SWAMP” anytime the conversation in a meeting veered off topic. Anyone in the room can call swamp and everyone knows that is the signal to get back on the subject at hand. It’s been very useful and a sort of fun way to re-focus.
I may have to steal that.
Great thoughts, Dan! It used to be a big joke: any meeting Justin is chairing will be at least 2 hours. But the “big joke” was my leadership style! I didn’t realize that laughing it off was my team’s way of gently letting me know what wasn’t working.
Recently, I’ve begun letting go of the “gavel” and allowing key members of my team to lead meetings and other functions. It changes up the entire meeting by offering another perspective, but it also develops and recognizes those key members of the team as leaders.
Meetings can be even harder in non-profit or volunteer organizations. Frankly, nobody actually HAS to come. I always wondered why my interest meetings didn’t garner a lot of support. Not long ago, I limited an interest meeting to less than an hour with multiple presenters and picked up three great new team members!
Tough confession to make, but so nice that you shared.
I like the general direction but I prefer a different formula.
Much of my work involves designing, running and following up on the plans created in meetings. Here are my meeting guidelines.
1. Always make an agenda, and link all items to your high level plans and priorities. If it isn’t linked, it doesn’t belong on the agenda.
2. Focus meeting time on getting the off-track plans back on track, and on making decisions on how to move ahead.
3. If an item doesn’t concern most of the people in the room, it shouldn’t be on the agenda. Don’t waste everyone’s time – get the involved people together and solve it in a smaller meeting.
4. No information updates should be presented in meetings unless they’re critical to the issues being discussed and there has not been time to update everyone in writing.
5. Short summaries should be developed and circulated prior to the meeting, giving everyone enough time to read them. In many cases, a draft decision can be circulated before the meeting. Failing to submit a summary is a breakdown in communication, and failing to read them is a breakdown in the readers’ responsibility to be informed.
6. If the first 5 points are followed, everything remaining on the agenda is important. Given that, don’t argue and debate, and don’t cut discussion off. Instead, use “constructive dissent” to improve. If you don’t agree with a decision or direction, say so, say why, and say specifically what you’d change. While others are doing this, listen respectfully and try to find a way to eliminate the concern they’ve raised while better achieving the overall goal. If there’s no support for a change, drop it and move on.
7. Capture all the action items decided in the meeting in real time. I use a projector and laptop so everyone can see the action item and adjust it right there and then. Every action item should have a due date, a clear outcome, and an “owner” who is responsible for delivering the outcome.
Simply put, this works. I use it in everything from strategic planning to conflict resolution to condominium homeowners’ council meetings. It even works in family meetings.
Dan, I’m becoming concerned that some meetings have efficiency down to a fault – in effect creating tunnel vision, tunnel thinking and tunneled conversations. I believe its important to start creating space to discuss the “what’s really going on” in the organization. The so-called this is what we’re not talking about but should be. But to even pursue this direction – space needs to be created.
These are great suggestions for creating efficiency in meetings where the purpose is to coordinate action on implementation. There’s one more thing I’d like to add, there is another reason to bring a group of people together – to think together to plan for something new or to solve a problem. In those situations, it’s good to remove the pressure of expectation for action. And often s a meeting needs to include both of these.
I agree with Martina and Rob that the key is having an clear agenda – with a specified expected outcome for every agenda item and with time limits, in order to keep conversations focused and to keep the meeting moving forwards.