Attending poorly organized and managed meetings “weakens me”. The bad news is I’m in a lot of meetings each day at work, and I also attend meetings at church and with the professional IT organization in which I’m involved. Marcus Buckingham defines an activity that weakens us as one that drains us, bores us and is something on our calendars that we don’t look forward to.
Author and blogger Michael Hyatt shares this same weakness with me. He writes that he is weakened by long meetings of any kind. He states that he can focus intently for about two hours at the maximum. Then his attention begins to wander and he has to move on to something else or he actually becomes a distraction.
So what can we do to avoid creating meetings that weaken others? Here are 4 simple suggestions to help you have better meetings:
- First, identify a clear leader of the meeting. This is the person who is accountable for planning and leading a well-managed meeting.
- Second, have a clear purpose for the meeting. Everyone is busy and should know why the meeting needs to be held in the first place. I work with a leader who will often ask, “What problem are we trying to solve here?” That’s a great question and one we should keep in mind when planning meetings. If you don’t have enough content to cover in the meeting or the communication can be done via email, cancel the meeting and respect your attendees by giving them the time back to focus on other priority items.
- Next, develop an agenda for the meeting. This would include a clear starting and ending time. Request agenda topics ahead of time, including the specific person assigned to that topic, and the amount of time they will need for their topic. If in the meeting you find that a topic is going to take longer than expected, adjust the agenda (not the length of the meeting) to accommodate the need for additional time. You may have to delay discussion on some topics so that you can devote time to the topics that have the higher priority. At times, you may also have to make the decision to take discussions that will need more time, off-line.
- Finally, recap items agreed on. How many times do you leave a long meeting and not really know what the outcome was, or what the next steps were? I think that happens a lot. Patrick Lencioni helpfully suggests that at the end of every meeting take a few minutes to ensure that everyone is walking away with the same understanding about what has been agreed to and what they are committed to.
These are just a few suggestions I have to help you run better meetings. Meetings are necessary for many reasons, so let’s make the ones we run the very best. What suggestions do you have to add to this list?
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