Stop Having Horrid Meetings

Almost every day I facilitate meetings, and I hate, H.A.T.E. attending ones that are badly run.  I can usually smell them coming from the opening remarks, and can feel the chill settle on my heart as the realization of a wasted hour sets in.  Here’s a list of what makes your meetings suck and how to fix them:

  1. Time your meetings.  State a time that the meeting will end, and stick to it.  Meetings are like a gas; they naturally expand to fit any size space they’re given.  Be paranoid about wasting people’s time.  They will love you for it.  Put an ipad on the table with the timer going so everyone can see it.
  2. Ask, ‘What’s the point of this meeting?’  What specifically will be accomplished when you leave?  I often start meetings simply clarifying what will be done when we leave.  “When we leave this room in 45 minutes, we will have decided (or fixed or brainstormed or whatever) x.”  Be specific.
  3. Change the pace.  Minds go completely numb after 30 minutes of information dump.  Change the pace 3 times if your meeting is an hour long.  You can:
    • Break into small groups to discuss
    • Ask for input
    • Have other people present
    • Show a video
    • Do an activity to help people engage
    • Be silent for 120 seconds to let people think
    • Stand up, walk around, go outside
  4. Remember the rule of 9.  When more than 9 people are in the room, they’re performing to show how smart they are, not engaging around the issues.
  5. Only discuss things that pertain to every participant.  If it’s only involves three of the six people involved, take if offline.  Discuss it later in a different venue.  Don’t invite the other three!
  6. Sum up ‘next steps’ when you’re finished.  Who’s doing what, by when as a result of the meeting?  Write it on a flipchart using huge letters for the accountability-impaired.  Take a picture as your meeting record – quick and efficient.

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