Making Meetings More Interesting
Study after study shows that workers feel they spend too much time in meetings (on average five to six hours a week, according to Microsoft research), and most meetings are considered unproductive. We deplore meetings because most are poorly run, organized around the wrong objectives, take too much time, and lack accountable outcomes. Typically, the attendees simply show up, giving little thought to their contributions ahead of time.
Leadership coach Kristi Hedges, who authored “Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others” (AMACOM, 2011), to improve your company meetings.
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- Send out clear agendas ahead of time with decision points to be made. Ask everyone to come prepared.
- Use the time together to discuss real issues, instead of updating routine matters better suited for a weekly spreadsheet. People can email updates ahead of the meeting, which participants can read on their own time.
- Change up the format, and consider ways to make them lively versus routine. Every couple of months, ask for feedback for how to improve them. Never keep a set agenda longer than three months.
- Show that you value original thought. Sum up the meeting by asking others what they thought the best ideas from the meeting were. This rewards the authors of the ideas and inspires others.
- End every meeting with personal accountabilities. What’s said out loud gets done. Have each person say what they’ve signed up to do, and how progress will be measured.
If you’re not running the meeting, you can still do your part by coming prepared with your best ideas developed ahead of time. You can also suggest some of these enhancements to your meeting, and show your leadership chops in the process.