How to Have Effective Meetings (Part 2)

By 25 Feb ’14Blog

Have you ever been part of a never ending meeting that seemed to have no purpose? I don’t have to tell you that it’s no fun and can feel like a waste of time. Part of the work I do in working with executives is helping maximize the effectiveness of meetings.

Good leadership must combine two important gifts. First, you need vision. This shows why you exist and where you are going. Second, you need to know how to follow through on your vision with good management. Some leaders may have vision, but they not the management follow through to pull off it off. Sometimes it also can go the other way around too. Carrying out the vision requires both.

Preparation Steps for a Good Meeting
Great leaders begin meetings by regularly reminding their teams of their reason for existing (their vision). Then they refresh their team’s memories of the current thematic goal. Next they remind their team of the indicators they expect that will show if they are succeeding or not.

Once these elements are in place, then your meeting can commence. With a context for the meeting in place, it brings focus to your interaction. It’s rare for leaders to do this given the fast paced nature of the business world. But what’s even more rare is to provide your team with the tools they need to lead their own meetings effectively. It isn’t that hard really. Simply write out how you do it and why. Then share with them.

I observed a leader doing this once. It brought amazing context and clarity to his meetings. In observing leaders for some time now, I’ve condensed below a tool that will help you lead your meetings well:

  1. Clarify in your mind what the purpose and goal of the meeting is. Write down advance notes of this purpose if necessary.
  2. Next, make sure the purpose and goals of your meeting are in line with the overall purposes and goals of your job. Ultimately the purpose and goals of your meeting should also line up with your organization’s reason for existing and current or goal.
  3. Clarify to the meeting participants what you hope to accomplish in the meeting. Do this prior to the meeting in an email so they come prepared with expectation of what’s going to happen.
  4. Determine what is the appropriate amount of time necessary to accomplish the purpose. You don’t need to have a 2-3 hour meeting for something that could be done in 30 minutes.
  5. Last, after the meeting has taken place, make sure the meeting accomplished the purpose and people left with next steps/goals. Do this by asking questions. A simple way to do this is to ask “what were your biggest takeaways from today’s meeting.” Listen to see if people respond in accordance with what your purpose for the meeting was. Next have each team member confirm what their next steps & action items are by asking “what were your next steps & action items?” This builds a healthy culture of inquiry.

Utilize these steps personally and feel free to share them with your people. Giving context & clarity to your meetings will take a little more time up front, but in the end it will speed up your organization. In addition to this, you will save people time and your culture will be much more engaged.

Last year I wrote a blog entitled How to Have Effective Meetings about my time spent with Jeff Vanderstelt. After interacting with a team recently, I decided the blog needed updating as a resource for others to use. Feel free to use this guide during your next team meeting. The original blog can be found at: http://achatacoaching.com/2013/04/how-to-have-effective-meetings/