More boring meetings workbook


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Change your meetings, change your company. Tips on changing everyday meetings.

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More boring meetings workbook

  1. 1. More Boring Meetings & PresentationsWorkshop WorkbookOctober 2012 1
  2. 2. Change your meetings, change your companyIʼve always said that communications can change the world and create clarity fromcomplexity.I use to think that videos and inspirational talks were the secret to this change.I now believe that the everyday meeting may be the most important communicationsvehicle of change, collaboration and empowerment.Alas, most business meetings and organizational presentations lead to human suffering.They go too long. They have no clear purpose. People donʼt disagree or ask questions.Managers mistakenly want agreement instead of healthy dissent. People readPowerPoint presentations to a group, instead of asking people to read backgroundahead of time so the time together can be used to discuss, debate and decide.Companies have guidelines for everything from safety procedures and privacy tovacation policies and social media. So why not how to run good meetings?Something to think about.I often facilitate strategic sessions for executive teams and teach people in companieshow to run more productive, collaborative, meaty meetings. This 10-page workbookincludes highlights from my workshops.One recent participant wrote and said, “Maybe corporate communications can start agroundswell in favor of fewer more value driven meetings and presentations by asking“whatʼs at stake” prior to setting up meetings. Before long we could be the “change wewish to see” at our corporation.What kind of change could you start by transforming “meetings as usual”? 2
  3. 3. Two essentials for productive, interesting meetings1. Whatʼs at stake?Participants need to be jolted a little during the first ten meetings of a meeting sothat they understand and appreciate whatʼs at stake.This might call for the leader to illustrate the dangers of making a bad decision, orhighlight a competitive threat that is looming. It can also be accomplished byappealing to participants; commitment to the larger mission of the organization,and its impact on clients, employees, or society at large.Employees are looking for a reason to care. And thatʼs what the leader of ameeting should be giving them.2. Resolve issues that matterWhen a group of intelligent people come together to talk about issues that matterit is both natural and productive for disagreement to occur. Resolving thoseissues is what makes a meeting productive, engaging, even fun.Avoiding the issues that merit debate and disagreement not only makes themeeting boring; it guarantees that the issues wonʼt be resolved. And this is arecipe for frustration. That frustration often manifests itself later in the form ofunproductive personal conflict, or politics,And so a leader of a meeting must make it a priority to seek out and uncover anyimportant issues about which team members do not agree. And when teammembers donʼt want to engage in those discussions, the leader must force themto do so. Even when it makes him or her temporarily unpopular.The only thing more painful than confronting an uncomfortable topic is pretendingit doesnʼt exist. I believe far more suffering is caused by failing to deal with anissue directly – and whispering abut it in the hallways – than by putting it on thetable and wrestling with it head on. Source: Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni 3
  4. 4. When meetings get stuck (or hijacked): whatʼs the real issue?An executive in a recent workshop kept hijacking the conversation by saying,“We just donʼt have the resources to do that.” Over and over. Which kept stallingthe strategy session.Hereʼs how I got the group unstuck. It might be helpful to you when someoneuses the common “Yes, but we donʼt have the money/people/time” refrain aboutnew approaches or ideas.“You all are stretched to the limit,” I said. “And letʼs remember that we findresources for priorities that are important to us. Things that arenʼt so importantdonʼt get funded.“Maybe the real conversation here is that this program just isnʼt that importantto the company right now. Maybe you should together decide itʼs not important,and stop frustrating yourselves by bringing it up at every strategy session.”Radio silence. (And one executive quietly laughing in acknowledgement.)The group decided that the issue was important and they figured out a way to geta basic approach working within the next few weeks. Itʼs not the Cadillac or FourSeasons version, but it begins to provide value and address a real need in thecompany.When someone throws objections, get to the real issue and get out of theendlessly frustrating and unproductive ”why not” objections. Source: Lois Kelly, 4
  5. 5. The Four MeetingsMeeting Time Purpose & Format Keys to Success Type RequiredDaily 10 minutes Share daily schedules, • Donʼt sit downcheck-in activities • Keep it administrativeWeekly 45 - 60 Review weekly activities • Donʼt set agenda until aftertactical minutes and metrics, and resolve initial reporting tactical obstacles, issues • Postpone strategic discussionsMonthly 2 - 4 hours Discuss, analyze, • Limit to one to two topicsstrategic brainstorm and decide on • Prepare, do research critical issues affecting long- • Engage in good conflict term successOff-site 1 - 2 days Review strategy, industry • Get out of office trends, competitive • Focus on work, limit social landscape, key personnel, activities team development • Donʼt over structure or overburden the schedule Source: The Table Group 5
  6. 6. Leading a meeting that mattersPre-meetingAgree on the purpose Where do we want to focus our attention and why is this important to do in a meeting?Name a clear focus What do we need to accomplish by the end of the meeting?Create good questions What questions will get people focused on the purpose, open up healthy dialog?Figure out who Who are the right people to be involved? How should they prepare? What should they expect to contribute?Communicate Meeting Purpose, focus, what people should prepare, preparation, timeLeading a meetingBegin well • Context: whatʼs at stake? Why is it so relevant to our work? • Check in, warm-up: invite everyone to speak to a quiet question to set toneFocus and involve Allow for conversation; notice behaviors and ask people to share views; focused on purpose; interject good questions to clarify, shift, wrap; introduce new topicsEnd well • What hasnʼt been said that needs to be said? • Check-out: each person says what he or she has learned, heard, appreciated or committed to doing • Agreements: whoʼs accountable to do what by when Source: Foghound 6
  7. 7. Resolving a common dilemma about meetings Should I Stay or Should I Go? Should I stay or should I go now? Should I stay or should I go now? If I go there will be trouble and if I stay it will be double so come on and let me know Song by The Clash, English punk rock band, 19811. How much value will I get from this meeting? (Your ROI)2. How much value can I contribute to this meeting?(Increasing the ROI for your team, company or customer) 7
  8. 8. Sample Evaluation CardHow effective was our meeting? Rating scale: 1= awful, 5 = superb 1. I saw a clear connection between the meetinggoal and something important to me and my 1 2 3 4 5team.2. I had the right information ahead of time to beable to contribute to the meeting. 1 2 3 4 53. The conversation stayed focused on our goaland moved us toward it. 1 2 3 4 54. I believe that the people at the meeting spokefreely and openly. 1 2 3 4 55. The meeting leader spoke frankly and directlyto the topic and genuinely encouraged others to 1 2 3 4 5do the same.6. I am leaving with a clear understanding of what 1 2 3 4 5I need to do next to support our goal. Source: Foghound 8
  9. 9. The biggest presentation “oops”What do you want people to understand/do/believe after theyʼve heard your presentation?Whatʼs the destination? Does your presentation move them from where they are to where you want them to get to? Does your presentation lead them to the destination? 9
  10. 10. Three parts of presentations that move people to destination 1. Beginning: What is What could be Amplify gap 2. Middle: contrast what is, what could be to hold attention, encourage full engagement. Make status quo unappealing. What is What could be Present Future Pain Gain Problem Solution Roadblocks Clear passage Impossible Possible Need Fulfillment Disadvantage Opportunity3. End: Call to action AND how the (the company, customers, the department, the world) will be much better because of the change to WHAT COULD BE. Source: Nancy Duarte 10