I ALWAYS use these four 'how to make team meetings work' tools that I will share with you here, because I hate unproductive meetings.
I hate unproductive meetings so much that when the Southeast Association of Facilitator's (SEAF) President, Jim Caulk, asked me to serve on their Board here's how I responded,
"I appreciate and feel honored that you've asked, but I have to tell
I can't stand unproductive meetings. Before I make any commitments,
I want to know, how many meetings there are and if I have to attend them?
If so, can you guarantee that they'll be productive?"
I sure do hold back my true thoughts, don't I? (Not!!)
Well, I did end up serving on the SEAF Board for a year. When we had our last meeting together the SEAF President reminded me about my reservations about the meetings. We laughed.
What was great about the SEAF Board meetings was that everyone on the Board was a Professional Facilitator. We knew how to make team meetings work and we actually had productive meetings!
Bad meetings run rampant and waste time! Click here to try out this very cool Meeting Cost Ticker.
It's a cool free tool for helping you measure how much money is spent every time you hold a meeting. To use it, just click here and then enter in the number of attendees, average hourly salary, and meeting start time. Then click on the START button. Watch the dollars, and the cost of each meeting, add up in real time!
This ' may sound basic - but think back to the last five meetings you attended or led, did you have an agenda?
Creating an Agenda clarifies your thinking, helps participants come prepared and will keep the meeting focused and on track. (Remember, time is passing and that every meeting costs money!)
This is another basic that will INSTANTLY transform your meetings.
Use your Guidelines to guide participant actions and behaviors, and be sure to POST THEM and REVIEW THEM at the start of every meeting. If you meet regularly in the same room, post the Guidelines permanently.
The goal is for the group to become self-regulating – so that they begin correcting themselves, based upon the ground rules.
Add ‘rules’ to your list as needed to help the group overcome specific dysfunctional behaviors and to improve buy-in. You can also have the group create their own meeting ground rules.
My Favorite Example Ground Rules:
I usually only use 5 to 8. Pick the Guidelines that will most help
your team meetings work:
- Start and end on time
- Be soft on people, hard on ideas
- Share all relevant information
- Everyone speaks
- No beeps, buzzies, ringy-dingies
- Have one conversation at at time
- Meeting work only
- Give benefits first
- Discuss the 'un-discussable' issues
- Take a stand.
- Explain reasoning and intent
- Use the parking lot
The Parking Lot is simply a piece of blank flip chart paper, with the headline "Parking Lot." It is posted in the room to capture topics that are brought up that are not directly relevant to the agenda. It can also be used to capture action items for follow up.
Use the Parking Lot to “park” information for later in the meeting or after the meeting. This helps keep the group focused on the Agenda and ensures that you don't "lose" important follow up ideas and issues.
My favorite facilitation and effective meetings teacher (I read his books,leadership articles and took his classes to prepare for my Certified Professional Facilitator designation) Michael Wilkinson has written an excellent guide to creating productive meetings: The Secret to Masterful Meetings: Ignite a Meetings Revolution
I highly recommend his work. It is practical, specific and on always target.
Great meetings are not created by themselves. Use these four tools to make your meetings work. If you do, you might find that, like me, you no longer hate them!
Below is a quote from comedian Dave Barry - the first time I heard it I laughed nervously.
I've put this at the end and deleted his exact verbiage because it IS a 'race-y.' Unfortunately there's some truth to his humor.
Don't let this be true of YOUR meetings, take control now!