What if you could run meetings that have your teams knocking down the doors to get IN, not knocking down the doors to get OUT?!
Not at all.
Sounds like a thing of beauty?
Every one of your meetings can arouse interest, energy, and excitement from your team. No one will fall asleep in them. Your teams will stop looking at their watches and the clocks at the back of the room and on their devices. They will be more open to what you and others have to share. Your meetings can become some of the brightest, most productive parts of the week.
So how is it done?
Here's the Readers Digest version:
1. Be happy to be there!
2. Provide the meeting goal(s).
3. Clarify how you will handle questions.
4. Remember time is a person's most precious commodity.
5. Hear from others.
6. Hear from others more!
7. Thank someone.
8. Assign action items.
1. Be happy to be there! Have you ever attended a meeting and immediately knew the leader did not want to be there? Even before she opened her mouth, you could tell by her body language that she was would rather be anywhere but there. And then when he opened his mouth, you knew unequivocally this was not going to be the best part of your day. Meeting-goers take their leads from the person at the front of there room. His temperament will dictate others' temperament; her attitude will drive the attitudes of others. If you show you are happy to be there, then others feel it, and you see positive returns. Even if you have not-so-happy news to deliver, you still want to demonstrate you are pleased, honored, and happy to be the one with the opportunity to lead your team through challenges and triumphs. Looking for ways to happiness, practical strategies you can put in place right now? If so, then, you have to check out this link! (And if you are an introvert who is thinking "This is just not my style," then you will like this post.)
2. Provide the meeting goal(s). Do this within the first few minutes of your meeting along with the agenda, and use power words now and throughout the meeting. Break away from meeting for the sake of a meeting or because it is a requirement handed down by the powers that be. Even if that is indeed the case, you can make it more meaningful; you must because your team is depending upon you and its leader to do so.
Share a simple statement such as "Upon the end of this meeting, you will ...
... know X, Y, and Z."
... be ready for A, B, and C."
... have a better idea of Z."
... be more motivated to do Q."
... understand what's next in ___, what you need to do, and by when you need to get it done."
You get the idea. It's akin to a teacher stating the objectives of a course in the syllabus. Students want to know what new knowledge they will have and what new actions they will be able to perform after spending a term in that course. The same goes for team members who want to know the exact same things in your meetings. When you do that - share the meeting goal(s) right away - then you have a more engaged, attentive team because you have given a roadmap for how time will be spent. (When possible, send the meeting agenda to prospective attendees beforehand; that helps to mentally prepare meeting attendees prior to their arrival to the meeting.)
3. Clarify how you will handle questions. Will you take them throughout the meeting (not advisable), or will you reserve time at the end to take them? It is recommended questions are held until the end so as to not get in the way of your momentum, interrupt the flow of the meeting, or end up having someone (or you!) going down a rabbit hole. Additionally, there is always the possibility a question will be asked prematurely, eating into valuable meeting time. A premature question is one where its answer will be covered later in the agenda. However, if you are particularly skilled at leading meetings, then you are at liberty to take questions throughout. Either way, let the audience know when the floor will be open for questions, and ensure you put a time limit the Q&A segment by saying something along the lines of "We will take 5 minutes for questions," then take no more than those 5 minutes.
4. Remember time is a person's most precious commodity. As such, start on time, and end on time. Leaders are considered thoughtful and respectful when they are careful to watch the clock and adhere to appointed end times. And as a result, teams tend to be thoughtful toward and respectful of leaders who respect their time. Team members who arrive on time should not be punished and have to wait for latecomers. Furthermore, team members may have other commitments and obligations they scheduled based on the stated meeting end time; avoid placing them in uncomfortable positions of having to choose between remaining in your meeting that has run late and being disrespectful of the other commitment or feeling disloyal and excusing themselves from your meeting that has gone over time. Though this is relatively self-explanatory, for more on this, visit the post at this link.
5. Hear from others. Yes, you are running the meeting, but hearing other voices takes some of the pressure off you and makes for a more energetic meeting. Make room for others' comments and input; bring other voices into the meeting so you are all singing the same chorus as opposed to everyone listening to one person's solo. When others feel they have contributed to a discussion/solution/challenge/idea, they are inspired and are more likely to embrace and move forward. (And to learn more about inspiring your team, read number 3 at this link!)
6. Hear from others more! Work should not always be about work, right? Find out something curious or interesting about your team members, and allow for time for them to find out something about each other. I recall taking about five minutes in a meeting to have a team write down on index cards something they had done that was unique, interesting, or that which they believed no one else in the room had done. I collected them, read them aloud, and if someone had done that same thing, then they were to high-five each other. Can you believe the fun we had learning one of our teammates once wore a mullet and was actually proud of it or that another had married her kidnapper?! LOL! Good times! It was a brief break from the usual, and we resumed our meeting with newly formed smiles.
7. Thank someone. Who does not love being recognized for a job well done?! While you might not do it at every meeting, work it into the agenda as often as you can and in as authentic and sincere of a way as possible. Hard work deserves recognizing, and when you recognize it, you get more of it. And recognizing one's efforts in front of his colleagues could not be any better way to do it!
8. Assign action items. Now that we are done, what do we do? Ensure this question is answered because if it is not, then it was just a meeting for the sake of holding a meeting with nothing gained and no one any closer to achieving a goal. Throughout the course of the meeting, identify what needs to be done to reach the objectives you outlined at the meeting's start. Then once you come to a conclusion, invite volunteers to take on those action items, or have people in mind whom you know will know a bang-up, knock-out, outrageously amazing job. And, in your most sincere tone, tell them that you know that is the kind of performance you foresee - bang-up, knock-out, outrageously amazing work - and guess what ... they will rise to the occasion.
Be seen. Be heard. Be great!
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© Image courtesy of Tomasz Mikołajczyk