Make Meetings Marvellous

Make meetings marvellous

Surely it’s impossible to make meetings marvellous? They are almost invariably a waste of our precious time. Most meetings we just don’t need, and we should kill them off. Failing that, we should all do what we can to avoid them, and stop being marred by meeting madness. But some meetings, just some, are worthwhile. Some meetings drive change, inform decisions, motivate people. Yet, even these meetings can be mediocre. At best

Even Worthwhile Meetings are Mediocre

Why are so many meetings mediocre? Far too frequently the blame is heaped on the participants: not prepared, lack of contribution, didn’t even turn up on time. But it just isn’t fair to blame the participants. Often meetings are so poorly organised, even the most engaged, willing and informed participants are unable to make them marvellous

How to Make Meetings Marvellous

Meeting effectiveness methods, and all its pseudonyms, litter the internet. Many over complicate. Others miss the point. Making meetings marvellous is not rocket science. It can be achieved in 5 simple steps:

  • State the purpose
  • Share what’s to be discussed, for how long, and what the desired outcome is
  • End the meeting on time, at the right time
  • Stick to the point, respect everyone’s time
  • Ask how the meeting went

Only once these steps have been successfully achieved, can the onus be placed on the participants

State the Purpose

If the meeting has multiple purposes, consider if a single meeting is the right format. If it has a single purpose, state it. Clearly. Giving the meeting a title just isn’t enough. A ‘Team Meeting’ is what? The chance for a coffee? An hour listening to the boss enjoy the sound of his or her own voice? The opportunity to share knowledge, experiences, ideas?

Share What’s to be Discussed, for How Long, What the Desired Outcome Is

Yep, an agenda. Shared in advance. Too often, agendas are 1 or 2 word bullets. Item 3: ‘Fire Drill’ is what? The last one? The next one? A code name for a commercially sensitive project? Instead, try, ‘Agree Lessons Learnt from The Last Fire Drill. Please come prepared with ideas (20 minutes)’. If pre-reading is required, say so. And share the documents with everyone beforehand

End the Meeting on Time, At the Right Time

This is the point where most posts say ‘start on time’. The stupidity and arrogance of this statement, the belief that it’ll make participants magically appear on time, makes by blood boil. People are late for meetings because they’re not Time Lords. Don’t end meetings on the hour, end them 10-minutes to the hour. That way, participants have time to get to the next meeting. Or even nip to the loo, have a drink (and maybe a water cooler discussion!)

Stick to the Point, Respect Everyone’s Time

The meeting has a purpose, and an agenda for which everyone’s prepared. To end the meeting on time, stick to the point. No tangents, no discussions between just two participants. And it’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure this doesn’t happen, not just the organiser’s. If it’s obvious that the agenda is not going to be completed, agree to move some items to a later date. If it’s obvious the meeting is going nowhere, end it

Ask How the Meeting Went

Meetings will get better if we work at them. And feedback is essential to learning. Make sure meeting feedback is on the agenda. And don’t skip it if time is short. Ensure everyone gets an opportunity to share their thoughts, without being obligated to do so. With any feedback, criticism needs to be respectful, constructive and gratefully received. Strong characters or those in positions of authority should focus on being self-critical

Meetings Can Be Marvellous, With a Little Work

To make meetings marvellous takes only 5 simple steps: state the purpose, have a meaningful agenda, end it at the right time, stick to the point, and keep learning

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