Author and columnist Dave Barry once said, “If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings.’”
While this is funny, I don’t necessarily agree. I would add that not all meetings have contributed to the underachievement of the human race—but bad meetings certainly have.
Meetings are one of the most important ways people get the right kind of work done. To say that meetings are a waste of time might be correct, but this is mostly due to the experience people have had with the wrong types of meetings.
Here are three things you can do now to get your team excited about meetings—that’s right… excited about meetings 🙂
1. Include the right agenda items. This may seem simple, and you may think you are already doing this, but most likely you aren’t. If your meetings don’t include passionate discussion and debate, there is a good chance you aren’t focused on the right things.
Calendar items, “heads ups” and FYIs, announcements and report outs can all be done via other communication platforms instead of meetings. There is no need to waste a whole teams time by talking about things that aren’t relevant to them or that can be communicated other ways.
In addition to focusing on the right things, don’t focus on everything. If everything is important, nothing will be important. One to two items at the most is sufficient. If you are focused on the most important things you can discuss, you will only have enough time for one to two things.
2. Create a set of meeting norms. This is still one of the most powerful tools I use as a leader.
Creating a set of norms as a team around meetings gives team members permission to participate, disagree, and debate. It creates clear expectations for meeting participants around promptness to meetings, behavior in meetings and how to prepare for meetings.
A teams set of norms shouldn’t be any more than 3-5 and can be created simply by brainstorming as a team a list everyone can agree to.
3. Send out the agenda and expectations for the meeting ahead of time.
Create clear expectations around the meeting outcomes and ensure that every participant understands why they are there. If you are unclear as to the reason why a participant should be at the meeting, then it is probably best that they don’t waste their time attending the meeting.
And one other thing (I probably should have added this to the list), but if there is no need to have the meeting, THEN DON’T HAVE THE MEETING. I think the caps emphasize this enough, don’t you?
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