Here are five golden rules to make your meetings more engaging. These golden rules make the assumption that you have already clarified the reason you need a meeting – whether face-to-face, by telephone , face time, video conferencing, SKYPE – whatever medium is most effective for the desired aims of the meeting.
Golden Rule No.1 – Make sure everyone knows why they are being asked to attend
I wonder how much it is costing in lost productivity to have brains attending meetings across the globe every day that are not put to use. If you are not going to make use of all the brains in the room, don’t invite them! When brains are not required to deal with the matter in hand, they will find other ways to make the most of their existence – understandably! At best, they’ll do email: at worst they will send messages to other brains asking why they are having to sit through such a boring meeting. If you are leading the meeting, don’t be afraid to invite people to only part of it.
Golden Rule No. 2 – Make each agenda item a question.
Instead of ‘determine next quarter’s budget’, how about ‘what is the total budget required for Q3 to achieve all we want to achieve?’ When discussion goes off track, a question makes it so much easier to refocus the contributions.
Golden Rule No.3 – Make sure everyone gets an opportunity to contribute
Remember the natural Extroverts will use all the air space they can get. Natural Introverts won’t use their verbal elbows to say their bit. As the leader of the group, you need to find a process that offers everyone an opportunity to contribute – not necessarily an equal opportunity as you will presumably want different levels of contribution depending on the roles attendees are being asked to play – but everyone needs an opportunity.
Golden Rule No.4 – Keep to time!
If you are going to run over time, stop and renegotiate how much time should be spent on the matter in hand and what else should or should not be let slip. But don’t plough on regardless of the clock. Attendees will be well aware of the time slip and will be concentrating on the time ebbing away and not on the subject being discussed. The quality of contribution will then drop and either an outcome will take even longer to achieve or the quality of the decision will be less than optimal.
On the other hand, remember discussion does not need to fill the time available. If you have reached agreement, move on.
Golden Rule No. 5 – Finally, ensure that what is agreed is captured and followed through.
People will stop contributing if they know that whatever actions are decided and agreed will not be followed up. Follow through and follow up