An Incredible Meeting Agenda Any Leader Can Use
Lousy meetings are the rule – vibrant meetings the exception.
In an ideal world, meeting-agendas arrive the day before the meeting. But you don’t live in an ideal world.
Spontaneous agendas result in meetings that suck the life out of teams.
3 reasons meetings matter:
Organizational life improves when meetings improve.
#1. Meetings are culture building activities. Let me attend five meetings in your organization and I’ll tell you what it’s like to work in your organization.
#2. Positive energy takes you further than negative.
#3. Meetings are expensive.
Meeting cost formula: Salaries in the room + Lost Opportunities + Lost Productivity + Friction of low energy = The real cost of lousy meetings. (S+LO+LP=FoLE = RCoLM)
An agenda you can use:
- Choose an opportunity.
- Choose a challenge/problem.
Item one: Strengthen connection.
Ask three or four people to complete the following sentence for one person at the table.
Example – “Mary, when I see you at your best, I see you ….”
- Be specific.
- Look at Mary when you speak. (Essential)
- Use Mary’s name.
Item two: Identify and choose one opportunity to pursue, assuming you understand mission and vision.
Discuss potential opportunities in small groups of two or three. (5 min.)
- Debrief and list opportunities on the whiteboard.
- Everyone votes for the opportunities they would most like to pursue. Everyone has three votes that must be used on three separate items.
- Assign a small team to explore the opportunity and come to the next meeting with recommendations.
Item three: Identify and choose one problem/challenge to address. (Same process as item #2.)
Item four: What agenda items might you suggest for our next meeting? (Don’t commit to any agenda items. Simply ask for suggestions.)
Item five: Improve.
- What worked in this meeting?
- What could we do better in our next meeting?
Item six: Schedule next meeting. Adjourn.
What items would you add to this agenda?
How might you modify the above agenda items?
Download: Meeting Agenda
Dan, this is really weird – I had always been taught that the object of a meeting was to ensure that all the attendees had heard the speaker’s voice.
Seriously, though, you’re spot on. When you examine the cost of meetings, unless you’re really clear on an objective, and can deliver it, it’s a horrendously expensive way of making sure somebody has looked at a slide.
Thanks Mitch. I’ve attended many meetings where the objective was to hear the speakers voice. Those meetings suck the life out of me. 🙂
Nothing like a predetermined objective to help us evaluate our proposed course.It’s interesting that we can be working hard but not be clear on the objective.
I always calculated “S” for the meeting participants and compared it to the value of the problem/issue we were addressing. If the two figures were very different, the invite list for any future meetings was adjusted.
Thanks Marc. We need more of this approach. Maybe our meetings would be more effective and energizing.
I really appreciate your post. Working in the church world, meetings can be tremendous time wasters if they are not focused and well-led. I really resonated with your cost equation.
Do you think the format would change at all in a non-profit or religious setting? I don’t necessarily think it would, but I’d love your thoughts.
Thanks Jeff. I’m not sure about changing the equation. But, I’ve noticed that leaders who move from corporate work to non-profit work notice that non-profit organizations are more relationship driven.
When evaluating cost a non-profit might want to place high value on relationship building. Just a thought.
I like the adjustment potential for non-profits. I’m involved in more than one non-profit and there must be some positives in there somewhere!!
Dan, thanks for another thought-provoking post!. You previously mentioned Dick & Emily Axelrod’s “canoe model” for meetings. Their book on “Let’s Stop Meeting Like This” is the best guidance I’ve seen on how to conduct successful and relevant meetings. They advocate six phases for meetings: welcome, connect, discover, elicit, decide, and attend. I think the decide and attend phases might be missing from your most recent post — unless I missed them. Purposeful meetings should result in decisions or consensus with follow-up actions. Absent those kind of results, there’s really no reason to meet in the first place — at least according to the Axelrod’s. All the best.
Thanks Paul. So glad you mention “Let’s Stop Meeting Like This.” I’m glad you joined in today.