In our current business climate, clear and timely communication could be a matter of life and death. Meetings, whether in a group setting or by web conferencing, maybe the most efficient way to communicate information to your team in the shortest amount of time.
However, meetings are among the most despised events in the business world. Meetings are valuable if you do them well, and horrible if you do them poorly.
Most people’s default attitude toward meetings is that they’re a colossal waste of time. They compare meetings to their negative memories of classrooms or church sermons, having to sit quietly while the speaker drones on. They recall thinking, “I’d rather be doing something else – anything that doesn’t require me to attend this meeting!”
How can we make meetings more appealing?
The desirability of participating in a meeting depends on a few criteria. When, where, format, and meeting length should be determined by the why – the purpose or goal of the meeting itself. For instance, if you just want to share a quick point, then get their attention, deliver the idea, confirm that they got it, and go back to work – one and done. For more complex concepts that might involve discussion or feedback, more time is usually required.
Here are some things to consider before you call your next meeting. While there are many valid reasons to hold a meeting, start by determining the purpose of the meeting.
- Delivering news or important updates.
- Introducing new policies or safety rules.
- Praising the team for excellent performance.
- Correcting errors or changing how things are done.
- Training – learning new or better methods or techniques.
- Collaborating to solve a problem that affects the shop.
- Introducing new team members.
- Motivating – introducing new programs or incentives.
- Celebrating a big win – this might be party time! Of course, there are times that you should not hold a meeting.
- When a simple conversation will do the job.
- When there isn’t time due to urgent priorities.
- When you can give it in writing, and be sure that it will be read and understood.
- When you can simply post the information on a wall chart or bulletin board for ease of reference.
- When you need to reprimand someone – This should always be done privately.
- When you are in a bad mood or not prepared.
People will quickly learn whether your meetings are worth attending, and they’ll avoid bad meetings with all kinds of great excuses: “I had to finish this job.” “I already knew what you were going to say.” “You don’t pay me to sit in meetings. You pay me to fix transmissions.” “Sorry, I just forgot.” “Blah, blah, blah…”
Here’s a quick guide for conducting great meetings.
- Always start and end on time – always.
- Don’t take a second longer than necessary for the meeting.
- Make it easy to participate in and attend your meetings.
- Do not spend the whole time talking!
- Encourage discussion to gain greater buy-in.
- Provide handouts to help them remember the message.
- Use real stories or examples to bring your message to life.
- Praise, affirm and thank them for their participation.
Follow this meeting format.
- Why Are We Meeting? Explain the purpose of the meeting and explain why it’s important to everyone.
- What’s New? What has happened or been learned about this topic since we last discussed it? Don’t repeat what they already know, except when a reminder is needed.
- What’s Next? What’s the next step of the process? Help them anticipate how things will unfold so they can be ready.
- What’s Needed? What do you need from them and them from you to help do the job well?
- What’s In It For Me? WIIFM is a common acronym used to emphasize that if they see a benefit to them, they’ll have greater buy-in.
These tips will make your meetings more valuable, the participation in them more enjoyable, and your whole team more productive. I wish you many great meetings.