Most of my rants have been directed at senior executives and team leaders, because I consider them the most accountable for lousy meetings. After all, it is organizational leaders who set the tone and establish expectations for how things are supposed to work. [continue reading...]
Over the last two weeks, in “Back to Basics: Making Your Meetings More Effective,” and “The Business Case for Making Your Meetings Matter (Part Two),” I have been sharing several basic ideas for improving your organizational ROI for meetings.
Clearly, the only thing that ultimately matters about any meeting is the quality of the decisions made or the ideas developed during the meeting. However, even if a particular meeting doesn’t produce all the desired outcomes, there can still be value from the conversation:
Even if on the surface the group failed to complete its task, it is worth remembering that the participants may have forged new relationships, learned important facts about the issue or each other, or generated new ideas that will eventually produce even more meaningful results. (from Chapter 8, page 193, Making Meetings Matter)
Today I want to focus on reducing the cost of your meetings. Read more
Are you frustrated by all the time you waste in lousy, boring, unproductive meetings? Are you ready to do something about it?
Last week, in “Back to Basics: Making Your Meetings More Effective,” I described the only two ways you can enhance meeting productivity:
- 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.
I’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.
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
Last week I offered ten tips for making a meeting flow smoothly (“10 Tips for Leading Meetings That Matter”). They were clearly directed at meeting leaders who have responsibilities for designing, convening, and directing meetings.
Bob Leek, Deputy Chief Information Officer for Multnomah County, Oregon, responded to that article by observing that, while meeting leaders are nominally “in charge” of their meetings, individual participants also contribute directly to the quality of the meeting conversations.
Bob’s suggestions for participant leadership are so compelling that I want to share them more broadly. Here, with only minor editing to clarify his perspectives, is Bob’s advice for meeting participants: Read more
The 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
Are you ready to become a smart meeting leader?
I invite you to join me on Tuesday, April, 26, at 4 PM Eastern time, for a free one-hour online conversation focused on “Redefining Leadership for the Digital Age.”
You can register here:
Registration URL: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7124403613916859139
Webinar ID: 146-058-459
In this inaugural offering I will identify why a new mindset is essential, describe the “P4+” model of meeting leadership I’ve developed, discuss how it produces meetings that are both productive and popular, and offer practical tips for engaging your meeting participants in creative, constructive conversations.
Participating in this program will enable you to:
- Understand how the digital age differs from the industrial age;
- Know why collaborative leadership is so central to success in the digital age;
- Describe the behaviors of collaborative leaders;
- Ask questions that draw out the ideas, insights, and experiences of others; and
- Bring your meetings to an effective ending that achieves your desired outcomes.
If you accept the idea that a meeting leader’s role is to orchestrate the conversation, or to sense and guide, then pay very close attention to what every participant is saying, and what emotions they are expressing. But listen for understanding, not to judge or evaluate what is being said.
As conversation expert Judith Glaser explains in Conversational Intelligence (link is to Amazon.com),
When we listen to connect we open and expand the space, allowing [the speakers’] aspirational [selves] to emerge. [When] we think out loud with them, and share our dreams with them and co-create with them we all experience ourselves in a new way.
Ask penetrating, open-ended questions, and add follow-up questions that extend your understanding. In the back of your mind you might question the validity of a statement, or be upset about a negative tone of voice. But remember that as the meeting leader you want to create an environment where everyone feels safe and free to express themselves, no matter what the content of their message (within the bounds of civility, of course). Read more
I’ve said it many times: meetings are the very heart of the future of work. Meetings are the way knowledge workers learn, communicate, problem-solve, create, share ideas, influence others, and inspire. They are the way work gets done in a world overwhelmed with information. We sort out the wheat from the chaff, we develop new ideas, and we build consensus in meetings.
But how effective are the meetings you participate in, or lead? Almost everyone I talk to complains about the meetings they attend. Over and over I hear terms like “boring,” “a waste of time,” “horrible,” and “never get anything done.”
If that’s what you are hearing or feeling about the meetings you attend and/or lead, what are you doing about it? Read more