We’re all busy. The last thing we need is to attend another meeting. The minions gather around the board table and talk, ponder, and pontificate. Time seems to stand still. We’ve all been in meetings when we felt an overwhelming desire to be watching paint dry than to hear one more syllable uttered in the dungeon the business world refers to as “The Conference Room”. In fact, so ineffective are most meetings that we’ve taken to naming our conference rooms with fun names so as to distract those weary attendees into thinking fun is on the other side of the door to Pebble Beach or Gilligan’s Island. So is there any way to spruce up our meetings? Is there such a thing as an effective meeting? Yes there is.
The next time you call a meeting follow these simple 5 steps:
- Prepare. Know your material. Know the salient points you’re trying to communicate. Anticipate questions and formulate responses. People hate showing up and feeling like their times been wasted because the leader doesn’t seem to have a clear agenda.
- Get revved up. Have some energy for goodness sake. Attending a meeting where the leader is monotone, or worse distracted or bored is a fate worse that death. Show some energy, and respect, to those who have showed up at your request.
- Take frequent pauses and solicit responses. No one likes to be lectured to, especially for 90 minutes – the average length of a business meeting in the U.S. according to the University of Tulsa. Asking questions like “does that make sense?”, or “what do you think of that?” will keep people engaged and thinking.
- Take notes. At the end of the meeting circle back to those who raised comments, concerns, opportunities, etc. This lets the attendees know that when they are invited to one of your meetings they are engaged and expected to interact.
- Acknowledge great ideas. The definition of “conference” is; a meeting of people to confer. If you didn’t want anyones opinion you wouldn’t have asked them to join the meeting. Even the best ideas, the best laid plans, the best strategies can be improved if you’re willing to listen.
Following these steps will keep your co-workers active and position you as a leader by demonstrating first and foremost your respect for everyone’s time, highlighted by your ability to efficiently navigate the team from topic to end-state.