Leading More Effective Meetings

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  • 1. Meetings are Hard
    2. Most people think meetings suck....but nobody thinks THEIR meetings suck.
    3. Meetings are SIMPLE to fix...but not EASY to fix.

  • Default should be: don’t call a meeting. Talk one-on-one. Eliminate recurring meetings, or cancel many occurrences of them.

  • This is great for people who sabotage meetings. Pro tip: schedule attendees for specific time blocks. (person A 1:40-1:50 person B 2:05-2:20).
  • An hour shouldn’t be the default. Make it 30 minutes. Pro tip: scrums or standing meetings. (literally, standing)
  • Obsess about starting & ending on time. It’s a credibility issue. Pro tip: start at unusual times (2:10 etc).
  • 3 critical roles: Every meeting needs a “bus driver” who’s responsible & selfless and keeps the bus out of the ditch & moving forward. Send notes to participants after meeting (= accountability). Everyone else is watching the clock - shouldn’t someone who can do something about it?!
  • The "How will we know when the meeting is done?" test. State it in the invitation and to begin the meeting. Example: “We’re meeting to finalize the timeline for the upgrade project.”
  • Helps with planning (don’t leave things out, what order, who should attend, materials, etc), allows ppl to pre-think issues, and keeps the meeting on track. Pro tip: add times to each section & keep those hard edges.
  • Engage all participants. Ask “Ray, what do you think?” Vote with stickers. Follow up offline “What did you think? Great! Please share at next meeting.”
  • Owner, verb, deliverable, deadline. “Brian: receive final project approval by 11/5.” One owner! A verb! Specific outcome! Deadline!
  • Follow up on action items, after the meeting & at the beginning of the next meeting. We’re all busy with multiple priorities - this builds accountability over time! Pro tip: send thank you notes as a follow up activity!
  • "Thanks for bringing that up. We'll add that to the agenda for the next meeting" then have followup conversation offline.
  • Follow up on action items, after the meeting & at the beginning of the next meeting. We’re all busy with multiple priorities - this builds accountability over time! Pro tip: send thank you notes as a follow up activity!

  • Demand a purpose and agenda for meetings you attend.
  • This is controversial. Use laptop/iPad/phone. As items come up in the meeting, do them or add them to your project mgmt system. Process email (sometimes).
  • Volunteer to help: work on the agenda, take notes, be timekeeper, oversee the technology, etc).
  • Sit with “the enemy” to change the meeting dynamic. Break up the clusters. Sit with the vendor or with the other department.
  • Don’t be afraid to leave when the meeting is no longer productive (“I’m sorry, but I have another appointment.” Even if the appt is sometimes with yourself).
  • 1. When you implement these, people will KILL you for it. Persevere! Find a kindred spirit.
    2. Start modest & build up. Pick 3 or 4 of these and start there.

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