Posts

Back to Basics: Making Your Meetings More Effective

change-management meetingI’ve been studying and writing about organizational meetings for years. And I’ve offered lots of tips, techniques, and “rules” for making your meetings matter – to the organization, to your staff, and to yourself.

But I haven’t spent enough time discussing why making meetings matter is so important. In other words, what is the business case for changing the way you design and lead meetings?

To do that we have to look at the two dimensions of effectiveness:

  • Improving outcomes:  better decisions, more creative solutions, higher levels of participant engagement, strengthened working relationships, and happier participants;
  • Reducing costs: fewer meetings, shorter meetings, and more efficient meetings, leaving more time for people to get their own work done.

Read more

Eight Ways to Make Your Meetings Matter

If it was a meeting that mattered – an experience you want to have again – then it included a meaningful conversation. As the meeting wound up you were incredibly energized and ready to do something important, and/or you were disappointed it was over.

A meaningful conversation changes you in important ways. You see the world differently, or you have new insights into a problem you’ve been struggling with, or you know someone in a far more personal way.

As I think back on memorable meetings I’ve been part of, it seems clear that the participants were speaking openly and honestly, and with respect for each other’s experiences and intentions. We were all “in the moment” exploring a topic we cared deeply about.

Those are clues about what drives a conversation from good to great. But they are only clues, and they are only my personal insights. To broaden my understanding of what makes a good conversation I’ve asked many people I respect and admire to share with me how they think about good conversations. Read more

Making Meetings Matter: Leading from Anywhere

Making Meetings MatterRecently I’ve been offering tips and techniques for making meetings more productive – and more popular.

A few weeks ago I listed 10 tips for meeting leaders (“10 Tips for Leading Meetings That Matter”), and then on May 30 I shared a reaction to that first article that was largely inspired by Bob Leek of Multnomah County, Oregon (“Making Meetings Matter: Distributed Leadership”).

Those ideas, in turn, sparked a comment and a question from Steven Beary, Principal and CFO of The Beary Group. Steven observed that Bob’s suggestion to “call for adjournment” if a meeting isn’t going well relies on Roberts Rules of Order, which is a common source of principles for leading public-sector meetings. As Steven pointed out, in most private-sector organizations that kind of pushing back or “taking over” a meeting could well be seen as insubordination, and in any case could easily become a “career-limiting move.”

Steven then asked the following question: Read more

Making Meetings Matter: The First Step

Meeting ImageThe first step in making your meetings and other conversations matter is to be more intentional about them.

However, because every one of us engages in work-related conversations of all kinds every day, it is highly unrealistic to suggest that you spend time thinking through every conversation before it takes place.

So let’s focus on formal meetings. Every meeting you set up and hold consumes scarce corporate resources – time and money. Don’t walk into any meeting or significant conversation without thinking through the basic variables, being clear about your purpose and expectations for the meeting, and sharing those expectations with the invited participants.

What information will you share during the meeting? What information do you want to learn? What decisions will be made? What commitments do you need, and from whom? How will you get to where you need to be? Read more

Meetings are the Heart of the Future of Work

covermeetingI was recently interviewed about Making Meetings Matter by Dr. Jac Fitz-Enz (“Interviewing Jim Ware”). In the course of our conversation he asked me why I had moved from my long-term focus on the future of work to something as “mundane” as corporate meetings.

Dr. Jac’s question caught me a bit off guard, but it made me think. Here’s his question and my response:

Dr. Jac:

Jim what took you from the lofty heights of futuring to the more mundane issues around meetings? There’s no question that we all suffer from meetingitis, but what drew you to it?

Read more

The Seven Dimensions of a Powerful Conversation


Special Note: You are invited to a special (and free) book launch party celebrating the publication of Making Meetings Matter. Join me for an hour of conversation about meetings and collaborative conversations on Wednesday, March 16, at 3 PM Eastern Daylight Time.

Just click on this link to register: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4007501453093003777


(This article is also posted on The Future of Work…unlimited blog)

ManWomanTalking_000010584843MediumLast week I reported on my recent interviews with several smart people about what makes for a good conversation (“A Debate is Not a Discussion, and a Discussion is not a Dialogue“) .

Today let’s dig a little deeper into the underlying factors they identified. Here are the seven dimensions of effective conversations:

1. A good conversation is purposeful.

Sure, we often engage in small talk, or in conversations we know are relatively trivial. But when the subject is something we care about, and we have a clear and explicit goal (informing, learning, sharing, persuading) we tune in more intensely and we engage more deeply.

2. The participants are genuinely interested in the topic being discussed. Read more

A Debate is not a Discussion, and a Discussion is not a Dialogue

Debate PodiumsWith all the presidential candidate debates filling up the airwaves recently, it’s time to think about what makes for a good conversation.

Regrettably, we are not seeing any significant examples of memorable conversations in the public so-called discourse.

I thought it might help to spend a few minutes thinking about what does make a conversation both memorable and meaningful.

A meaningful conversation changes you in important ways. You see the world differently, or you have new insights into a problem you’ve been struggling with, or you know someone in a far more personal way. Read more

Five Reasons There are so Many Bad Meetings

Making Meetings Matter: coverNote: This article is a brief excerpt from Chapter Two of my new book, Making Meetings Matter: How Smart Leaders Orchestrate Powerful Conversations in the Digital Age (link is to the book’s page on Amazon.com).

There don’t seem to be any definitive statistics about how many meetings are held every day, but the estimates I have seen (and recalculated for myself) suggest that there are somewhere between eleven and twenty-four million corporate meetings a day in the United States alone. Even though that is a wide range, I am confident that there at least four billion meetings a year here in the U.S.!

However, as I am fond of saying, no one I know is dying for that next meeting to start.  Read more

Making YOUR Meetings Matter

Permit me a bit of shameless self-promotion. My new book, Making Meetings Matter: How Smart Leaders Orchestrate Powerful Conversations in the Digital Age, just became available on Amazon.com, and I am in a giddy celebratory mode.

In fact, I just got my very first copy of the paperback edition (I ordered it from Amazon on Friday). Yes, I’ve read it all before, but there is something very visceral about seeing the actual book. Here’s a picture my wife took of me admiring it. There is nothing like finally holding your “baby” in your own hands!

JIm Ware pondering his new book

I am particularly proud of the testimonials I’ve already received from a number of very smart people. Read more

Orchestrating Effective Communication in the Digital Age

MMM coverI am both pleased and proud that Jim Horan, the creator of the One Page Business Plan®, wrote a Foreword for my new book, Making Meetings Matter: How Smart Leaders Orchestrate Powerful Conversations in the Digital Age (now due to be published on or about February 25).

In fact, I liked the Foreword so much that I am sharing it with all of you today. Here it is, in its entirety:

 

The nature of conversation and communication has changed dramatically. We find ourselves communicating faster, more frequently, over greater distances, and with many more people. Yet we seem to be less effective.

Why is that so? Because of technology every business is now doing business globally; there are almost no meaningful geographic boundaries any more. Yes, there are still a few basically local businesses – the barbershop, the nail salon, the local farmers market. But almost everybody else is now doing business regionally, nationally, and internationally.

We are also starting up businesses at a much faster rate. There is an expectation that a business can go from startup to scale-up in a much shorter period of time. Read more