3 Words that Make Meetings Great
Poorly run meetings offend the talent at the table.
Our hatred of meetings points to an issue leaders love to ignore.
You should be fired if you consistently waste people’s time and organizational resources.
If you enjoy meetings, you may be a deluded leader sitting at the head of the table.
- Begin with chit chat before the meeting. Pre-meeting conversations set a tone for effective meetings.
- Strengthen connections.
- Provide safe environments to define challenges, explore unexpected solutions, and evaluate results.
- Achieve objectives that serve teams and organizations.
- Leverage the talent in the room.
The person at the head of the table is responsible for the quality of the meeting.
5 Things to stop doing in meetings:
- Complaining. Problem-solving isn’t complaining. The difference between complaining and leadership is solution-seeking.
- Interrupting. The person leading the meeting should interrupt interrupters.
- Blathering on and on.
- Chasing rabbits.
- Neglecting action items and accountability. Ask, “Who does what by when?”
3 words that make meetings great:
When choosing between broad meeting agendas or specific, nearly 75% choose specific.*
Two or three action items is enough for most meetings.
We want meetings to end early because meetings suck. When choosing between shorter or smaller, 80% choose shorter meetings.*
Great meetings are as long as they need to be and no longer.
If your meetings run too long, make them a little shorter than they need to be. Talk expands to the amount of time allotted for it.
“Once you’ve got 7 people in a decision-making group, each additional member reduces decision effectiveness by 10%.” Decide & Deliver
Passive observers don’t belong at the table. Try the two pizza rule.
Tip: Delegate solution-finding to a small taskforce charged to return with recommendations.
What’s wrong with meetings?
What simple strategies might improve meetings?
*Leadership Freak surveys.
Re complaining – nobody will acknowledge there is a problem, let alone move to solve it, unless and until enough people of the right status complain about it…
Note that this is somewhat mathematical – ten people complaining at lower levels will act as a trigger, or three at mid-level, or one at apex…
Thanks Mitch. Love the connection between status and complaining. I still like to put complaining in a bad bucket. Pointing out an issue/problem isn’t complaining as long as we move to solution-seeking.
I would also add that when pointing out a problem, you need to provide specifics and not be anecdotal. When someone brings issues to me but does not provide specifics, they are handicapping me from digging in to find solutions.
Good morning Leadership Freak,
I usually read your blog as a portion of my daily personal PD. There have been occasions when I shared your incite and those insights of your guests with my students. What is the meaning behind “Chasing Rabbits”? Thank you for your time.
Elba Santiago, Instructional Assistant, Tantasqua Regional Junior High School
Thanks for your question Elba. “Chasing rabbits” is about getting off topic. When a person brings up a topic that isn’t relevant to the current conversation it’s chasing rabbits.
I prefer to call it “spider webbing”. It is a light hearted way to say to the group (even if it is just one person) we need to get back on track. It usually gets a laugh and a nodd – peole have to think about it which I think makes it a little more effective than using chasing rabbits.
thanks for a new expression.
Meetings are only as good as the content intended and the contributors, listeners and the topics of discussion. under the corporate confines these need to be business as needed and keep things short and to the point. Perhaps hold questions till the end ask contributors to jot down the questions and go around the room to give each contributor their 10 seconds of fame, without discussion we tend to have Blinders on. Granted in corporate world your choices can be limited you must attend or be not available moments do exist.
Outside of corporate meetings perhaps your more a social meeting scenario, everyone sits at a table enjoys some food etc. same options exist encourage everyone to contribute the topics of their choice if its a Tech group keep it tech, if its Faith/Religious follow suit, attract those with common interest the intend is only as good as the interest. If you have no interest don’t attend.
Thanks Tim. Your suggestions for outside the corporate world may have application FOR the cooperate world.
3 WORDS THAT MAKE MEETINGS GREAT
Meeting is cancelled!
Thanks for the chuckle, Paul. Our delight that a meeting is canceled indicates that many, if not most, of the meetings we attend are poorly run.
What a persistently relevant topic, Dan! Too many meetings are obligatory, unproductive time-sinks that don’t result in consensus, decision, or action. I suspect the plague of unnecessary meetings is due in part to “leaders” too timid to consult with key stakeholders, make decisions, and take action. Your previous reference to the canoe model for meetings described in “Let’s Stop Meeting Like This” is an excellent guide to productive meetings. (http://axelrodgroup.com/meeting-canoe/) Making meetings specific, shorter, and smaller is a great first step!
Thanks for extending the conversation, Paul. Here’s to better meetings.
Move to adjourn.
hahaha….good one, Peter.
Three thinks happen at meetings:
3. Action items assigned.
Discussion–what questions need to be discussed and answered.
Decisions–what decisions need to be made and what process should be used to make them (manager/leader decides, group consensus, majority rule, a sub-committee decides etc.
Action items–who is assigned, what must be accomplished, and due date.
The meeting leader is responsible to make sure the meeting is effective and efficient.
Thanks Paul. It’s amazing that we have meetings but don’t declare the goal or the process of decision-making. If, for example, the lead wants suggestions, then please let me know that I’m not part of the final decision. Set expectations.
Years ago, I read about someone who created a taxi meter for meetings: You entered the salaries of everyone in the room (and possibly also other costs, like room rental for off-site meetings) and clicked start. Helps keep the meeting focused when you realize what it is costing to chase those rabbits, complain, and otherwise not accomplish the agenda.
Wow. Thanks Jennifer. That feels like urgency to me.
Great post! I hate rabbit chasing meetings!
Good stuff this morning. However, I was disappointed to read pizzas weren’t involved in the Bezos Rule. Hah!
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