Have you ever been in a meeting and thought to yourself…”there has got to be a better way to do this?” I know I did…… for years and years. Sometimes I would say it out loud and get some nasty looks but mostly I said it in my head. I have since learned that there are different ways to run meetings-thank goodness because communication is necessary for humans to work together so, we kinda need meetings!
After participating in hundreds if not thousands of meetings during my career, I noticed that people tended to “agree to a consensus” because they were tired, bored, distracted or just wanted to get the hell out of there already! Rarely did agreement look like all hands in with smiles on our faces. As I thought about this, it dawned on me that leaders run meetings in the way they experienced meetings. And I realized that that was me too, I didn’t take a course on how to run an effective meeting, I just started running them the way I noticed they were ran. I never put much thought into it until I did! AND that is when the thoughts about “there has got to be a better way” began to consume my mind during all meetings.
I could go on and on about meetings and how to shift them but I will just share a couple of thoughts so I don’t bore you.
One of the fastest ways to improve a meeting is to decide on the purpose of it.
Why are you gathering the people?
- Acceptance – Are you asking for their acceptance about something? This means that you have already decided what needs to be done and you are asking the team if they are willing to accept this new direction or whatever you have decided on. As a leader this is necessary sometimes. Are you open to some discussion about it? If so, book a meeting to share and to open the door to a discussion. If not, send a memo informing them about what they need to know and clearly state that you are asking for acceptance. If someone has an issue with it please invite them to a private conversation so the barriers can be cleared.
- Co-creation – Is there a challenge or a need arising in the business that needs a solution or does the business need a new direction? In the co-creation option it means that there is no clear solution or outcome at this point. It means that this meeting is about inviting people in to share their wisdom and to co-create a new solution, direction, vision or action plan. In this case a meeting is required. There are many ways to do this well but most of us haven’t experienced co-creation in a meeting before. Don’t worry, you can get good at this with a little intention and some direction.
- Update – If the purpose of the meeting is to update people, first ask yourself if it is necessary. Does this build trust in the team or errode it? Does an email work for this purpose?
I am not saying you have to be awesome at this but if you start thinking about meeting through these filters you can start to make some new decisions about how you want your meetings to look and feel.