I Love Meetings!

Yesterday was a typical day at work, characterized by a number of meetings with different people for different things.

  • There was one meeting where we launched a project that would benefit students in our youth services in Metro Manila and the Philippines.
  • There was a much smaller meeting with a staff member regarding possible transitions in her work.
  • There was a major meeting regarding very crucial and sensitive policy issues.
  • There was a shorter meeting where we checked on the status of nine other projects we’ve got going at the same time.
  • Finally, there was my most sensitive meeting of the day with two staff  regarding a major adjustment in their leadership.

Amazingly, all of them went well, even though there were moments of raised voices, uncomfortable silences, and a huge need to clarify with one another. Everyone left the room with much greater clarity and agreement. And we all knew WHO had to deliver WHAT by WHEN.

Boring Presentation

Sometimes people think that meetings are a waste of time. And when they’re done poorly, they really are. But when meetings are done well they are only essential to the organization but a huge boost in morale and productivity.

Here are some universally recognized great tips to use for your next meeting:

  • Have the right people there. Meetings aren’t for everyone. Relevant people include those affected by the change, those with important perspectives, and those who are acting on the decision.
  • Make the purpose clear. What kind of meeting is this? Are you getting people’s opinion? Asking them to buy in? Presenting an option and leaving the decision to them? Is this a tactical meeting regarding how to run today’s event? Or a strategic meeting regarding directional changes? Once you’ve decided, stick to that.
  • Use the Parking Lot. If issues or topics come up that aren’t covered in this meeting, put them in the parking lot to show that they have been heard and will be returned to another time.
  • Strictly enforce the NO GADGETS POLICY. We’ve started putting all cellphones and tablets in the middle of the table. Nothing is more important than this meeting right now. Multi-tasking is a lie. So when we stopped fooling ourselves, we watched engagement and productivity soar.
  • Let loose with healthy conflict. Our strong relationships allow us to fire away at one another and discuss sensitive items without fear of a break in our relationship.
  • Review deadlines and accountabilities. Make sure everyone is clear about what is expected from them. WHAT needs to be done? WHO needs to do it? HOW will it be done? WHEN should it be completed?
  • Immediately give everyone a copy of the minutes. No Minutes, No Meeting. If it wasn’t written down, it might as well have never happened.

Do you have any tips you can share on how to have fruitful, engaging, and productive meetings? I’d love to hear them!

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