Leading An Effective Business Meeting
If you lead meetings and you’re not good at it, I have a truth bomb for you.
Your employees are irritated with you and likely roll their eyes behind your back.
That’s not cool of them to do, and it’s also not cool for you to give them very good reasons to feel that way.
Step up to the adult’s table and learn how to run a meeting that doesn’t make everyone want to sail off into the world of imagination or an unintended trance.
There are some very basic rules for running a productive business meeting.
The problem with this set of rules is that you probably think you’re already doing them.
The reason that’s a problem is that there is a significant likelihood that you are incorrect.
Here are the most common complaints about business meetings:
- Too long
- Too frequent
- Lack of focus
- Lack of direction
- No real outcome/results
- No idea why I’m included
- Should have/could have been an email
The good news here is that there is hope.
There are ways to make your meetings better.
- Be prepared & declare the end game.
If you know what you want at the end of the meeting, you’ll know how to explain the purpose of the meeting to everyone you hope will attend.
This is important for people to know before the meeting starts so they’ll bring a spirit and intention of collaboration and effectiveness with them.
We’ve all been in those meetings that include people who think it’s pointless… they suck the energy right out of the room!
Don’t let that happen… head that off at the pass by following this first simple practice.
- Set expectations according to an organized agenda.
This helps you to have shorter meetings and allow someone (or in this case something) else be the bad guy…
You’ve set an agenda complete with the time allotted to each agenda item.
When you’ve reached the end of the allotted time for that agenda item, you can make the schedule the “bad guy” and say, “we need to stay on schedule – so we’ll have to move on; do we need an additional meeting to finish discussing this item?” (Then schedule it right then and there if the answer is yes.)
- Ask for input ahead of time.
Make sure everyone has the chance to be heard.
As part of your meeting invitation, include a secondary invitation to submit an agenda item or feedback ahead of time.
That way if someone in your meeting wants to talk longer than rule #2 will allow, you’ll have no guilt letting that person know that discussion topics or issues an always be submitted beforehand.
That is a point of training for you- you’re managing how people behave before, during, and after your meetings; it may take a while for your “students” to learn the new methodology.
- Keep them short.
Neurological research shows we have an attention span of approximately 20 minutes.
That’s why I love scheduling 3-item 15-minute long meetings.
That structure of a meeting allows for a couple of minutes to settle in, time to get started, finished, and any lingering issues to be recorded.
- Set clear assignments & make sure everyone comes prepared.
This is a two-fold rule:
First- by letting people know the agenda, you’re giving them a chance to think about their input. In addition to asking for them to send you their thoughts/input/additional items before your meeting also ask them to make any notes for discussion during the meeting. This keeps people from going into “story mode” and wasting time.
Secondly- make sure everyone is clear what his or her role is and what their assignments are upon the meeting’s conclusion.
My clients and I use something called an ownership grid to make sure every participant in a meeting knows what his or her role is and what assignments belong to him or her after the meeting is finished.
This practice is absolutely necessary to make sure meetings flow smoothly and that the homework assignments are done correctly, on time, and by the proper employees.
If you’d like to learn more about the ownership grid, head here to schedule a coaching breakthrough session and we can discuss how coaching can help you personally and/or your company.
- Appoint a facilitator for every meeting.
This will let everyone in the room know who the “boss” of the room is at that time.
The facilitator may be you, someone on your team, or one of your peers.
This information should be included in the meeting agenda and also announced at the beginning of the meeting.
The facilitator should be someone who is comfortable commanding the room and who can appropriately call an end to a line of discussion if it is going too long or otherwise disrupting the schedule.
- Give others the floor.
One of the most difficult habits to break for many of our clients is taking over discussions in the room.
If you’re having a meeting the purpose is to inform and get feedback from those in the room.
Allow the attendees opportunities for both of those things.
Possibly the most important thing to remember is respect.
Go into meeting scheduling, planning, and discussion with the understanding that we are all incredibly busy.
Respect other people’s time as you would appreciate their respect of your time: less frequent, more purposeful and more highly effective meetings will help forge positive relationships and set you up as a hero in the working world!
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