Three Ways to Make Meetings Great Again

67% say meetings distract from getting work done.*

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Leo Tolstoy’s opening line of Anna Karenina has become the Anna Karenina principle.

There are a few ways to succeed, but many ways to screw up. Which is one reason meetings suck.

Two reasons meetings suck:

#1. The person at the head of the table.

Meetings suck in many ways, but success hangs on the person running the meeting.

Squandering the time and talent of people is the greatest evil of organizational life. Anyone who thinks they can just show up and run an effective meeting is incompetent, over-confident, or lazy.

An unprepared chairperson should lose a week’s pay, or some other form of painful humiliation.

#2. The head-turning problem.

Meetings suck when heads turn to the head of the table instead of toward each other.

The point of a meeting is to capitalize on the skill, talent, and perspective of the people at the table.

Yes, some operational meetings seem to require a talking head at the front. But even operational meetings can be organized in a way that requires others to talk, if they are prepared.

Three ways to make meetings great again:

#1. End on time!

We all hope no one will ask a question so we can get back to work! But when ALL meetings end on time, participants have permission to participate.

Any meeting that drones on drains energy and creates resentment.

#2. Interrupt blabbermouths.

“Excuse me Bob, I wonder what Mary thinks about this?”

#3. Ask people to respond to each other’s input.

Bob, “What comes to mind as you listened to Mary?”

Mary, “If you were going to move forward with Bob’s idea, what might you try next?”

Sam, “How does Mary’s suggestion impact your area?”

What’s one thing you would ask leaders to stop doing that would make meetings great again?

What’s one thing you would ask leaders to start doing to make meetings great again?

Bonus material:

*Working or Wasting Time (Korn Ferry)

How much Time do we Spend in Meetings (Hint: It’s Scary) (The Muse)

Dear Dan, How do I get my Team to Participate in Meetings (Leadership Freak)

Evidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor in Groups (Chabris)