We’ve all had to sit through them – big old snoozefests of meetings full of buzzwords and BS. Hell, I think I even conducted a few of those before I figured out how to get the most out of the times when I bring my staff together. Meetings shouldn’t be a chore; they are an opportunity to share ideas, devise solutions, and inspire better performance from your whole staff – but only if you run those meetings right. Here’s how it’s done:
- Outline objective as a group. My meetings start with a blank whiteboard. I kick things off by establishing the reason for the meeting, and then every member of the group contributes an objective they want to accomplish in that meeting. I write the objective down or designate another staff member to record our objectives, and the amazing benefit is that every single person is immediately engaged. They have a stake in the meeting, and they know their priorities matter. Don’t worry if you have more objectives than time … you’re about to refine and focus your list.
- Consolidate your objectives. Combine and condense your list of objectives into a manageable number – three to five is a perfect number for a brief meeting – and list those goals for everyone to see. Tackle each objective – collect information, collaborate to find a solution, and move on through your list.
- Confirm that you’ve achieved each objective. Not only does this step ensure that you’ve accomplished the meeting’s goals, but you’re also modeling a thoughtful, efficient approach to problem solving. Focusing on measurable progress sets a good example.
Not every problem needs a major meeting, and my next and final step lets you address smaller issues by holding a meeting with an appropriate scope. These micro meetings can be held on short notice and should only involve the essential staff.
- Hold a stand-up meeting. When you sit folks down for a meeting, they tend to settle in. There’s no hurry, and there’s little excitement in a room full of people looking at their watches. I like the stand-up meeting, and I keep ‘em brief. We use raised tables for standing note-taking, and I always appoint a timekeeper, with instructions to cut the meeting off at fifteen minutes. Giving yourself a brief window means that you have to prioritize your objectives, and you’re eliminating unnecessary fluff. You have to be prepared, and you must be efficient. Training yourself and your staff to stay on topic in these quickie meetings will pay dividends when you discover how much you can accomplish in a relatively short period of time.
A meeting should always, always be the means to an end. The point of holding a meeting is to accomplish an objective, not to appear to be busy and engaged. If you’re meeting just to have a meeting, you’re doing it wrong. If you see your staff propping up their eyelids to stay awake in your meeting, then you need to examine and improve your meeting protocol. Your objective should be efficient, effective, goal-oriented gatherings.