How Effective Are Your Meetings?

Have you ever stopped to analyse the effectiveness of your meetings? What kind of meeting culture prevails in your organisation? 

Meetings often take up a significant proportion of the working week and if not careful can zap your energy and leave you feeling unproductive and demotivated.

  • Do meetings lack focus?
  • Do 2 or 3 voices dominate?
  • Do you leave the meeting feeling unheard, having been unable to contribute your knowledge and experience?

These are common complaints about meetings be it the board, project, team, network or social.

So what can you do to transform your meetings? Here are three tips to ensure your meetings are more effective and enjoyable:

1. Know Your Outcome

Start by encouraging participants to prepare and think about the meeting before they arrive. As Stephen Covey advised “start with the end in mind” and be clear about your outcomes for the meeting.

To get people thinking about the meeting beforehand be specific about what you want them to contribute. Do this by capturing each agenda item in the form of a question:

“What or how do you think…?”

For example:

  1. “What do you think will be the impact of the budget shortfall?”
  2. “How do you think we can improve engagement in the project team?”

Keep the meeting focused by reminding participants of the agenda questions whilst creating a sense of ease and space for them to explore the agenda questions free from rush.

2. Create Thinking Space

To generate the best ideas and thinking during your meeting value the diversity in the room and create a space that sends out the message “you matter”. Ensure you only invite people who need to participate and then ensure you create opportunities for them to contribute and add value. This can be achieved by subtle changes in your behaviour as chair:

  • Create a sense of equality by giving everyone a chance to offer their thoughts in turn and whilst they are speaking give them attention, be interested and listen without interruption, respect their contribution without judgement.
  • Open the meeting positively by asking each person in turn to briefly share one aspect of what they think is working well in their part of the business or project.

Knowing everyone has the opportunity to contribute, without interruption, will create generative thinking, building on one another’s ideas to increase the effectiveness of the meeting and help overcome any potential conflict.

3. Appreciate Diversity

When deciding who to invite to your meeting think about who will contribute to the creativity, skills, experience and information required to take the thinking or decision making forward. Then ensure participants are given the opportunity to contribute by creating an inclusive environment. 

Close the meeting on a positive note and ensure people feel it was worth their attendance by valuing their specific contribution. Ask each participant in turn what went well during the meeting and what they appreciate about one another.

What Now?

Notice what happens when you implement these three tips in your meetings, how the energy and productivity changes.  When sustained, this positive change in your meeting culture has the potential to start a ripple effect and lead to a systemic impact on the wider culture of your organisation. 

If you are serious about increasing the effectiveness of meetings in your organisation I would love to discuss practical steps you can take.