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5 Tips for Making Meetings More Successful than Ever

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As a leader you know it’s important to gather your team together and communicate.  Effective teams are on the same page.  Without meetings, how will you ensure that?  How will your team know your goals, their role, and the resources available to them?  Stellar teams communicate openly, even challenging each other’s perspective.  If you don’t communicate during meetings, then when?

For successful meetings that are highly productive and effective, follow these tips:

Tip 1: Engage Your Team

Always have an agenda and follow it strictly.  Put out a blank agenda sheet ahead of time so your team has an opportunity to offer suggestions on what’s important to them.  A day before the meeting, if someone has offered a suggestion, ask that person what specifically they want to talk about.  The issue may require further research or maybe something you can handle privately. Don’t be afraid to cancel a team meeting if you review the agenda and determine the issues that can be better handled with fewer participants or even ignored altogether.

Tip 2: When Meetings Go Bad, Interject

Get comfortable with interjecting.  Interjecting is a nice way of interrupting someone when the conversation is going in the wrong direction. If the meeting is taking a negative tone or is wandering off course, politely stop the discussion. You might use one of these scripts:

Excuse me, everyone.  I want to interject here because I find us going off-topic.  The topic we are to discuss is [blank], and it’s important we stick to that.  If we want to talk about [blank] at a later time we can add that to the next agenda.

Team, our discussion has gotten off-topic, and we have a strict rule here to always stay the course.  I’d like everyone’s permission and agreement to change up the agenda this one time and continue our conversation even though it’s taken us away from the original point.

Caution: Sometimes there is a tendency for leaders to allow for certain topics to be expanded upon when it suits them and to stop other topics that they don’t like.  If you are going to stick to an agenda, be consistent.  Interject and keep the team on topic for all discussions.

Tip 3: Stay on Schedule by Timing Everything

When you meet with team members prior to the start of the meeting, ask them how much time they think they will need for their specific topic. At the meeting, set a timer and hold firm.  If a topic isn’t completed, table it for next time, agree to meet your employee in person, or assign the topic for someone to do some follow up and report back later.

Tip 4. Obey Your Own Ground Rules

Set ground rules that apply to everyone, including you. You might decide on these four to begin with:

  • Everyone attends on time.
  • Cellular devices are not allowed.
  • All views are respected, even when being challenged.
  • Two missed meetings will result in a warning.

Tip 5: Consult the Experts

Books by Patrick Lencioni are an excellent resource, including Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable…About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business. If your team constantly complains about meetings or refuses to participate (a sure sign something is wrong), you may need a coach to help you hone your meeting leadership or you may need to find a facilitator among the members of your team.

Key Takeaways

Wasteful meetings are just that...wasteful. Take control of your meetings and everyone will benefit, including you.

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