5 Things That Make Nearly Any Meeting Great

I’ve been in some meetings that I couldn’t wait to end. I’ve led a few myself.


Five things that make nearly any meeting great:

#1. Kind candor and courageous transparency abound.

Courageous transparency and kind candor transform any meeting from run of the mill to exhilarating.

The worst meetings are filled with political posturing, head-nodding, and brown-nosing. Give me a meeting where someone says, ‘That doesn’t feel right,’ over meetings filled with fake smiles.

The person who speaks their truth in front of others is the bravest one at the table. Honor it.

#2. Options, not easy answers, are developed and explored.

Shallow meetings – filled with politically correct answers – waste talent and time.

When someone raises an issue, develop four or five possible options. Say, ‘And what else?’ after the first or second responses.

#3. Many participate; few observe.

The fewer observers and more participants in a meeting the better.

Eliminate anyone from the meeting list who doesn’t make meaningful contribution after three meetings.

#4. Conversation happens around the table.

Monologues make for lousy meetings. It’s only slightly better when conversations are between the leader and one participant. Everyone else becomes an observer. (See #3.)

If you’re leading a meeting, help participants talk to each other.

  1. Nod and look around for input, after someone speaks. Don’t add your two cents after each person talks.
  2. Bob, we haven’t heard from you in awhile. What’s going on in your thinking?
  3. Mary, what do you think about the issue Fred raises?

#5. Shorter is better than longer.

Enthusiasm is part anticipation. Brevity gives permission to anticipate the next meeting.

A series of long boring meetings makes you dread the next one. Start your next meeting by saying, we’ll be done at quarter till instead of the top of the hour. 

What happens at the best meetings you lead or attend?

How might you put some of these ideas into practice?