We’ve all been there: Soul sucking meetings with little direction, no clear champion, and no decisions. Brainstorming sessions that result in great ideas but no real deliverables. The "quick chat" that turns into hours. As a leader you must change the way meetings are conducted in your organization, knowing full well that they are a necessary component of communications in today’s environment.
Here are seven steps to starting your meeting revolution—and while it’s not a magic formula to change, it is a perfect foundation to more productive, more meaningful meetings.
Step 1: Require that all meetings have an agenda—and an objective—before they start.
When people know what to expect, and what is expected of them, they will be able to contribute more, and you can stay on topic. Send an agenda out prior to the meeting. A meeting without an objective is like a story without a plot.
Step 2: Ruthlessly manage your time.
Start on time. End on time. When meeting time isn’t being used in a valuable, constructive way, get to the next topic or stop the meeting all together. It’s fair to reconvene at another time if participants aren’t engaged.
Step 3: More isn’t necessarily better: Try limiting the number of participants.
Inviting too many people, or the wrong people, isn’t the way to get work done efficiently. Think long and hard about who is necessary, who is optional, and who doesn’t need to be involved at all.
Step 4: Establish—and adhere to—meeting rules.
A quick list of do’s and don’ts upon which the meeting participants agree and support can be invaluable when it comes to saving time and headache. A few examples are: We DO start and end on time. We DON’T interrupt when someone’s talking. We DO keep the meeting productive and on point. We DON’T use cell phones or computers when we’re meeting.
Step 5: Try standing up or walking in meetings.
Some experts recommend standing or walking in meetings. This prevents multi-tasking, encourages movement, and leads to shorter meetings! While it may feel strange at first, try it with one meeting a week to see how it goes.
Step 6: What’s a meeting worth? Calculate the value of the meeting—in dollars.
When you have several of your highest-paid managers in meetings most of the day, it means they aren’t doing other value added work like supporting their team or securing the next client. When you decide to meet, do a mental calculation of an average hourly rate for each attendee—and ask if your meeting is worth that dollar amount.
Step 7: Lights! Meeting! Action!
Along with an agenda and stated objective, leave the meeting with a clear set of deliverables and action steps…and a list of who has committed to doing what. Use this list to keep your meeting participants accountable to what was agreed upon.
What are some other things you can try to create a MEETING REVOLUTION? Please add to the conversation—comment below or on Twitter at @gregbellspeaks.