Most of us hate meetings. We feel we’re much too busy to take time out of our crazy schedule to stop and meet. Of course, this is what produces more craziness because more time is spent running around with our heads chopped off spreading miscommunication — if we’re communicating at all.
Besides, most meetings end up similar to the type we have all been subjected to at our house of worship gatherings or our local town hall sessions. Someone starts talking (more like ranting) and the rest of us get angry or we just start snoozing.
Once in awhile, there’s actually a worthy topic to discuss at these types of meetings. No matter. They just become an excuse to meet, have donuts and coffee, and set up another meeting to cover the same stuff that people were too gutless to address at the current meeting.
No wonder you hate meetings!
I’m not advocating those kinds of lousy get-togethers for your meeting. I’m referring to the type of meetings I teach my clients to run. These meetings get results. And good results are rarely by accident.
You must first learn the meeting basics or what I call “Meetings 101.” Clients find the following six steps indispensable when getting this habit in place:
- Figure out who must attend;
- Try to limit the number of people to 10;
- Ask yourself how you can give attendees a good ‘What’s in it for me?’ basis for being there;
- Stick to three main points to be covered in the meeting;
- Cover those points fully and stay on topic; and
- Recap what you want them to walk away with, which is your three main points.
Don’t sabotage your meeting
I’ve outlined eight meeting sabotages and how to fix them.
Sabotage No. 1: You invite too many people because it’s politically correct and you don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings.
Fix: Get over hurting people’s feeling and only have the right people involved with the right meeting.
Sabotage No. 2: You have more than 10 people at the meeting, if you’re a big company. Unless you’re a spectacular speaker with years of training, you can’t possibly hold their interest or make them feel the meeting pertains to them personally.
Fix: Have multiple meetings if need be.
Sabotage No. 3: You have no agenda, so you ramble.
Fix: Have a written agenda completed a minimum of 24 hours before the meeting and don’t change it after that. If you want attendee input, give attendees a copy of the agenda at least 24 hours ahead of the meeting so they can prepare. And keep the agenda to your three main points.
Sabotage No. 4: You try to cover too much material or too many different subjects in one catch-up meeting.
Fix: You rarely have meetings … unless somebody’s really messed up! And now you try to cram everything in that one meeting. For better results, have frequent, regularly scheduled meetings with tight, short agendas.
Sabotage No. 5: You have no start time or you don’t start on time. Waiting only punishes those who did show up on time.
Fix: The agenda must have the begin time and you must honor it. Kick the door closed and don’t let the stragglers in. They’ll know soon enough you mean business. A trick is to pick a weird start time such as 7:59 a.m. vs. 8 a.m.
Sabotage No. 6: You have no end time or have one but don’t honor it. It’s a big sin when you do this in business meetings.
Fix: The mind can only absorb that which the butt can withstand. Whatever you’re talking about, stop on time and make the next meeting pick up from wherever you left off. Your people have places to go and clients to see and those commitments must be honored. Meeting frequently and staying on topic is the recipe for success.
Sabotage No. 7: There’s no “What’s in it for me?” so why should attendees care about the meeting?
Fix: Sit in their chairs, literally. Look up at the head of the table or the podium and ask yourself, “If it were me, why would I care?” If you can’t answer that, either those people don’t belong at the meeting or you need more prep work to address their WIIFM.
Sabotage No. 8: No follow-up meeting was scheduled based upon what was discussed and no to-do list with deadlines and object accountability defined.
Fix: You must be taking notes, creating to-do’s, assigning them along with due dates or the meeting is going nowhere. If you’re too busy to take notes, assign someone else to do it.
If you want more on how to run effective meetings, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know you read this and would like the 10 Golden Rules for Meetings.