If you’re like most people, you hate meetings. You even hate the word. Just listen to someone the next time they say it: “Sorry, I have to go. I have a meeting.” They scrunch up their face, lower their voice, and sound irritated.
Whether with your family, a department, or an entire organization, you lead and participate in a lot of meetings. Too often, leaders are guilty of organizing meetings that suck the life out of the participants. But I’ve found that it’s possible to lead life-giving meetings.
In fact, I’m convinced that meetings are the lifeblood of any organization or team. I can hear you already thinking, “Great, you want me to have more meetings.” But that’s not what I’m encouraging. The quantity of meetings is not my focus. I just want you to have effective meetings.Meetings are the lifeblood of any organization or team. Make them good. Click To Tweet
Here’s how to lead a killer meeting by using 7 best practices.
1. Communicate the importance of the meeting.
If you call a meeting, you must realize that most people don’t want to be there — even if they think that the topic is important.
In order to open their eyes to how crucial their participation is, you must communicate three points. Make sure that the participants understand 1) the significance of the issue the meeting is attempting to resolve; 2) how important they are to the solution of the problem; and 3) why you selected them to participate. It will also help to encourage them by expressing gratitude and appreciation.
If, on the other hand, you can’t think of a reason why it’s vital for a person to participate, honor them by not inviting them to the meeting.
2. Focus on decisions and actions.
Every meeting has two common goals: to make decisions and to determine actions.Every meeting should have 2 goals: to make decisions and determine actions. Click To Tweet
You should rarely have meetings soleyfor the purpose of sharing information. You have mass communication tools at your disposal that can share information without wasting everyone’s time at a meeting.
The only reason that information-only meetings should exist is if the topic is highly emotional. This can be good or bad emotions. When Apple announces a new project to its employees, it hosts an information-only meeting to share the news. An email couldn’t capture the excitement of this event.
In the same way, if you have hard information to share with people, you need to meet with them in person. But these emotional meetings should be the only time you have information-only meetings.
If you’re not simply sharing information in your meetings what are you doing? You are making decisions (what are we agreeing to?) and determining actions (who is doing what by when?).
3. State the meeting objective ahead of time.
No one wants to show up to a meeting not knowing why they are attending it. Let people know what the objective is. This means that you have to take time before the meeting to clearly articulate what the objective is. Then you need to share that with the team when you invite them to the meeting:
- In this meeting, we need to determine our top 3 priorities for the next quarter and who is responsible for each one.
- In this meeting, we will evaluate our Sunday morning experience and determine one improvement we will make in the next week.
- In this meeting, our family will review our weekly plans and decide what we are going to do next weekend.
You need to determine the objective of the meeting ahead of schedule so that you can know whether the meeting accomplishes its goal.
4. Create an agenda.
I hate making agendas. I would rather “wing it.” And I think that I’m pretty good at winging it. But the teams I lead don’t like walking into a meeting without any idea what is about to happen.
Besides that, you can’t keep your meeting focused on the objective if no one knows how we are going to spend our time.
For the sake of your team, send an agenda ahead of time so that they know what to expect.
An agenda also builds trust because people know that you have thought about and planned for the meeting in advance, thus honoring their time
5. Capture notes sparingly.
You do not need to take exhaustive notes about every word that is spoken in your meeting. But this doesn’t mean that you don’t need to capture notes.
Instead, you only need to capture two kinds of notes: decisions that you make and actions that need to be taken including who does it and by when.
6. Determine after-meeting communication.
I’ve been a part of meetings in which decisions were made that would affect hundreds of people, but no one asked the question, “Who needs to know about the results of this meeting and how it will affect them?”
Every meeting should take into account if and how your decisions and actions need to be communicated to others. The higher you are in leadership, the more people need to understand the decisions that are being made.
Ensure that everyone is on the same page with how the message should be communicated.
7. Recap. Clarify. Commit.
Reserve time at the end of a meeting to recap, clarify and commit. This is the time when you the team gets clarity around the decisions and actions. There is often misunderstanding. Taking 10 minutes to make sure that everyone is clear on the decisions and actions can save hundreds of hours of misunderstanding and miscommunication.
The final step is that everyone needs to commit to the decisions and the actions. I like to look people in the eyes and ask them, “Are you committed to making this happen to the best of your abilities?” Certainly situations can change. But there is power in getting a verbal commitment from someone that they are committed to the decisions and the actions that the meeting participants agreed upon.
Meetings can be the lifeblood of any team or organization. But they only give life to others if you make them good meetings. These 7 best practices will help you lead killer meetings.
BONUS: A Great Tool for Maximizing Meetings
Leading meetings takes time and energy. If you’re like me, you would like some help in leading meetings more effectively. I few months ago, I introduced my team to Minute Meeting Notes.
It helps you plan your meetings, capture decisions, determine tasks and assign them. If you have a recurring meeting, it adds previous action items to the top of your agenda so that you can review them.
It lets multiple people take notes simultaneously or even take private notes. It has been a great investment for our team.
It can even connect with my favorite productivity app, Todoist, so that any task assigned to me in Minute automatically gets moved to Todoist.
Meeting objectives and agendas can be sent out to everyone in advance, and notes can be sent to everyone after the meeting. It has been a great investment for my team.
Question: What meetings are you responsible for? How can you improve your meeting leadership this week?