You, as a good leader, are always creating a vision for your business (or department) and take pride in sharing that vision with your people. On a daily basis you ensure that the right tools are in place and that information is consistently communicated – allowing your people to do their jobs as efficiently and effectively as possible.
One of the best tools to communicate with your team is the meeting. Meetings, however, while a huge asset, can also be huge liability. If you’re not smart about how you run your meetings your people will come to dread them. To run an effective meeting it requires effective management. Here are seven best practices that will ensure your people are not only excited about your meetings, but walk away with as much benefit as possible:
1. Avoid unnecessary meetings. The first rule in getting your people not to hate attending meetings is to keep them to a minimum. While you may feel like a Monday morning meeting is just the right thing to set the tone for the week, your staff may not feel the same. In fact, many of them are still thinking about the weekend, and the last thing they want to do is sit through an unnecessary meeting. That’s not to say weekly meetings are always a bad idea; just make sure that there’s truly something to meet about before you do. For many businesses and teams, a monthly meeting is enough with weekly updates communicated via other means, such as email.
2. Share ownership of the meeting. It’s a basic fact of human nature: we’re much more interested in our own things than we are in someone else’s. Accordingly, if you want to get people excited about a meeting, let them make it their own. Devoting even a few minutes to key personnel can let them feel like the whole process was worthwhile. If for some reason it’s important to your business processes to have meetings on a regular schedule, consider passing the role of facilitating the meeting around your team.
3. Provide incentives for attending (and paying attention) during a meeting. Food is often a great motivator for teams. Simply having a nice selection of donuts or sandwiches can help encourage meeting attendance and participation. As much as we human beings like to think we’re motivated by higher interests, the fact of the matter is that over time your team will begin to make an unconscious association between meeting time and those delicious treats.
4. Consider creative meeting venues. Sitting around a table in a conference room can be a great way to get things done fast. It’s also a great way to stifle creativity. For a change of pace, get out from under the fluorescent glow of the conference room and hold your meetings somewhere else. Holding your meeting at a local restaurant (see #3 above) is a good option. Even switching things up and holding the meeting in a different part of the building can help to keep things fresh.
5. Vary presentation formats. If the primary purpose of a given meeting is to disseminate information, the last thing you want to do is barrage your team with data verbally for an hour and a half. Likewise, all PowerPoint presentations start to look the same after a while. If you have the time and resources, consider breaking things up with a variety of presentation formats. That can include verbal, slideshows, videos, and even small group activities.
6. Use breakout sessions to troubleshoot and to collect feedback. Consider stopping during a meeting to break into small groups. Small groups can do a number of things for you in the middle of a meeting. For example, they can work to brainstorm possible solutions to a problem presented during the meeting. They can also be a great source of feedback. You can even use a breakout session like this during your next meeting to try to get ideas about making meetings more exciting.
7. Put it in the parking lot. One of the things that most people dread about meetings is that, 9 times out of 10, they go off topic, which results in lengthy discussion. Oftentimes, these discussions are focused around one team members needs and not necessarily beneficial to the whole group. Have a white board or note book to hand so that you can write down any off topic points and inform the attendees that while they are making very interesting points, due to time constraints, we should “put it in the parking lot” and address at a later stage. This will show your people that you are interested in what have to say. Remember: always follow up on these points after the meeting.
Meetings can be more than a necessary evil. A good leader is able to identify ways to give people the information they need, have the discussions that need to happen, and still keep everyone interested. Try any one of these seven tactics and you may soon find that your people stop dreading those meetings and may even start asking when the next meeting will be scheduled.
These articles may also interest you:
Image: © Rawpixel - Shutterstock.com