How to Have Effective Meetings

By April 9, 2013Blog

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

One leader I have the privilege of working with is Jeff Vanderstelt. Jeff leads a movement of churches called Soma (the Greek word for “body”). He also is leads a local team where I currently live in Tacoma, Washington. Jeff has a combination of two important gifts. First, he’s a visionary. Second, he knows how to follow through with good management.

Sometimes great leaders may have vision, but they may not have the management follow through to pull off their vision. Carrying out the vision requires both. Here’s how Jeff does it. First, Jeff regularly reminds his team of the vision of Soma. Then he regularly reminds them of the mission. After that he reminds them of the metrics (how they know if they are succeeding). Then he carries on with the meeting so the team under stands the context of why they are doing what they are doing. While this is rare for many leaders to do, what’s even more rare is what he does next: he equips his team with tools to lead effectively. The tools he provides are simple, here’s how: he writes out how he does what he does, then he shares with his team.

Since this blog is on how to have effective meetings – I thought I’d include an equipping tool Jeff  gave his team recently on how to make meetings work for the good of the organization. Jeff’s five steps are below:

  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 the Mission and Strategy your organization.
  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.

I’d like to thank Jeff for giving me permission to share the tools he uses with his team. To learn more about Soma, click here. Now go and have an effective meeting!