Meetings are crucial to getting business done, right? Then why are so many meetings a colossal waste of time?! It is because most people don’t apply a few simple rules to their meetings. Below are 5.5 tips to help you deliver meetings that people find value in and are actually interested in attending!
Tip 1: Start the Meeting Right
Start out the meeting with something that has nothing to do with the topic you are discussing. I know, some of you think this is a waste of time, but you will find that this well help you create a sense of interest and anticipation for your meetings. Start your meetings off with a video, or picture or story…they can be serious or funny or just interesting.
I have branded this as the meeting MoZen (moment of zen) and they have been so successful, that I have had SVP’s at Fortune 1000’s ask me prior to a meeting to “make sure you bring a MoZen”. It works…give it a try.
Tip #2: Don’t Waste People’s Time
Outlook has created a culture of 30 minute or 1 hour meetings…it is just easy to schedule that way, because that is how the blocks of time work. Many meeting leaders will take all the time they have scheduled whether they need it or not. This means that every day in Corporate America there are millions of wasted minutes.
Meetings that should take 14 minutes are taking 30 minutes, and meetings that should take 38 minutes are taking 1 hour. If you make a concerted effort to only use the minutes needed rather than scheduled, you will gain new believers in your meeting system and this will result in greater engagement and participation.
Tip #3: Prepare for the Meeting
Have you ever been to a meeting where the leader says, “what are we meeting about”? You know this is going to be a waste of your time. If you take 10 minutes to review the agenda, make sure you have supporting material, print out any necessary material, etc…you will be find that it is much easier to get through your meetings in a timely fashion, and to get to the heart of what you are meeting about.
Once again, if you take 10 minutes, you will show the attendees that you care about their time. You will be amazed that over time, you notice more people show up and are on time to your meetings because they know you will not be wasting their time.
Tip #4: Send out a Follow Up Email
Alright, let’s just cut to the chase…project management in corporate america sucks! People are so comfortable in a fire fighting mode that they manage projects by waiting until someone says, “where are we with….it is due tomorrow” as their PM.
If you take 5 minutes to send out an email (same day) with highlights and actions from your meeting, you will begin to find that amazingly, your meeting action items are getting completed. It is rocket science I know. Send out an email after every meeting with the following: Recap, Time-line, Action Items and next steps. You are almost a meeting Jedi!
Tip #5: End Every Meeting with “The Question”
In every meeting you will have people that are shy, reserved and quiet. It is easy to overlook them and never get their input. There is a danger in this. These are sometimes some of the greatest thinkers in your organization and there is a chance that you may be missing the best solution because you don’t engage them.
You can solve this dilema by asking a simple question. At the end of every meeting ask each person, “Did we miss anything?”. You will immediately find that people who may have sat quiet the entire time, offer amazing advice or raise critical questions.
Bonus Tip #5.5: Remove the Chairs
Have you ever driven home in your car, pulled into your driveway and thought, how did I get home? Your drive becomes so routine, that you go into “auto-drive” and your are not really engaged in the drive, your body is there but your mind is not fully engaged.
This happens in meetings every day! You bring a sheet of paper, you sit in the same chairs, at the same conference table…and your mind is not engaged. If you take the chairs out of the conference room, people will be forced to take it off of “auto-drive” because they are in an unrecognizable situation. You will find the meetings moves faster, people are more creative, the conversation is more emotive and ultimately your meeting will be energetic and productive. You can’t do it all the time, but if you throw this in every now and then, you will truly be a meeting Jedi!