How to Lead Meetings People Love to Attend and Get Work Done at the Same Time

Unproductive meetings drive productive people nuts.

If organizational culture is the way we treat each other while we work,

Meetings are culture building activities.


10 reasons the meeting sucked:

  1. Bloviators. 
  2. Texting under the table.
  3. No agenda.
  4. We covered that last time.
  5. Irrelevant attendees.
  6. Pretending to take notes, but really sending email.
  7. Ignored or disengaged remote participants.
  8. Rabbit chasing.
  9. Could we please do something?
  10. It should have been an email.

10 ways to lead productive meetings:

#1. Once a quarter work on the meeting. Ask attendees to prepare one suggestion for improving the meeting. Test drive one suggestion a month.

#2. Everyone participates. No drifters allowed.

The number one thing you can do to lead meetings people love to attend is facilitate everyone’s participation.

#3. Prepare people to participate.

  1. Send an agenda. Prepare it together, when appropriate.
  2. Identify participants with special contributions to the meeting.
  3. Send background information and questions ahead of time.

#4. Take breaks every hour.

People can’t pay attention if they’re thinking about the restroom.

#5. Address rabbit chasers with curiosity. (You may be uncomfortable confronting them.)

“I’m not making the connection. What brought this to mind at this point in our meeting?” If it’s off topic, “Could we save that for another conversation? I’d really like to stick with our agenda.”

#6. Begin on a positive note. Constant negatives drain energy.

  1. What’s working?
  2. What are you learning about (insert topic)?
  3. With management or leadership in mind, complete this sentence. “I used to (insert behavior), now I (insert behavior).”

#7. Have participants respond to a question before the meeting. Read the responses in the meeting. Ask everyone to guess who wrote the response.

#8. Choose shorter meeting lengths over longer. Be bold. Try 30 minutes instead of 60.

#9. Fewer attendees cause higher ownership.

#10. Ask yourself, “Is this going to make a difference?” if not, cut it.

What drives you nuts in meetings?

How might meetings be improved?

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