My Meeting Epiphany

Look at meetings as an honor and opportunity to take your company to the next level.

meeting epiphany
November 15, 2015

Years ago, I was traveling with a good friend and discussing the business and my overall stress level. I said that I felt like I was always in meetings, and that if I had fewer meetings, I’d be able to accomplish more. My friend turned to me and said, “Mark, meetings are your job.” This remark dramatically changed how I looked at meetings moving forward.

I realized that, as a leader, it’s my job to communicate ideas and vision, to motivate and inspire others to achieve or exceed goals. Meetings are a forum for making these things happen. So I began to look at meetings as an honor and an opportunity to take the business to the next level. I started to treat meetings with a degree of reverence. Here’s how to hold outstanding meetings:

1) Know your reasons: Ask, “Why are we having the meeting?” I begin by asking myself: “What are the goals of the meeting and are they worthwhile? Does everyone understand the three top goals of the meeting?” By asking why and even making it a discussion topic at the meeting, you will be able to raise the bar.

2) Make it relevant: Meeting content must be germane and fresh. You need to cover specific updates and metrics, but be sure to allow equal time for discussion topics and idea sharing.

3) Engage the participants: A great leader or meeting moderator makes sure that everyone’s engaged. If some meeting participants are not, then it is the leader’s fault. Try throwing the less vocal members a softball question, or simply ask, “Bob, what are your thoughts on Jim’s idea?” Not only will you create a better overall meeting dynamic, but you may be surprised by the great insights that Bob has to offer.

4) Make meetings fun: If they’re fun, people will enjoy attending them more. You could occasionally use an icebreaker or share a funny story. Don’t hesitate to deputize one of your team members to share or do a fun activity in the meeting, too.

5) Use visual tools: Most of us are visual thinkers, and using visual tools and metaphors can help team members grasp concepts. For example, ask them to pick an automobile that best describes the production team, a BMW or a Ford? Then let them describe why. Another aid would be to ask the team to rate client experiences from 0 to 10, then have them explain why. This approach can help create alignment between you and your team.

6) Find the right cadence: An
appropriate length and pace for a meeting is important. Finding this rhythm takes some time to master, so begin by asking participants how long the meeting should be. Then make a commitment to stick
to the finish time, and tweak it as necessary for future meetings. 

7) Make meetings a priority: When meetings are recognized as a priority, they start on time and everyone is prepared. Casually missing a meeting is not OK. Begin with planning the rest of your day around the scheduled meeting.

If you’re a skilled craftsman or a top-gun salesperson, you know it took time to develop those skills. Becoming a meeting master also takes time. And it will require some time for your team to learn the necessary skills too. 

The first step is to become a student of outstanding meetings. Do that and you will see meetings through a new lens. Remember: Meetings are your job. 

Mark Richardson, CR, is an author, columnist, and business growth strategist. He authored the best-selling book, How Fit Is Your Business? as well as his latest book, Fit to Grow. Reach him at [email protected] or 301.275.0208.


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