Do you know anyone in your organisation who loves attending meetings?
Probably not. Meetings tend to get a bad rap.
Keep reading if you’re eager to help create a fruitful meeting experience for everyone…
What’s Not OK About Most Meetings
People are forever complaining about the meetings they attend. They tell me that many of the meetings they’re asked to attend are a waste of time—they’re neither effective or efficient.
Think about an ineffective meeting you’ve attended recently. Did you notice that:
- There wasn’t a clearly communicated intention, outcome or agenda?
We need a map that frames the conversation. It helps align expectations. It helps us listen. And it helps us make a worthwhile contribution.
- The meeting was called to primarily to impart knowledge?
(This one is my pet gripe.) An email could have done that.
- The most senior people there dominated the meeting?
They took advantage of their stripes. And that had 0ther attendees frustrated at not being able to contribute their thinking.
- The underlying issues weren’t candidly put on the table?
Attendees had a sense that real thoughts and feelings weren’t kicked around. And that caused them to devote way too much of their head space to wondering what was really going on. (The real meeting often happens outside the formal meeting.)
- There was a lot of “talking at” and not much dialogue?
It certainly wasn’t a healthy two-way conversation that progressed important topics.
Given how much time you’re in meetings, something’s got to shift, doesn’t it?
What Exactly Do You Need To Do To Turn Your Meetings Around?
Let’s draw from Peter Senge’s Skillful Discussion rules to form useful meeting guidelines…
- Pay attention to your intention.
—If you’re the chairperson, be clear about your intended outcome and communicate that outcome and the agenda.
—Ensure you communicate a benefit, a “what’s in it for me”, for all meeting participants.
- Balance advocacy with enquiry.
—Communicate your true position, both what you think and your relevant feelings about each topic.
—Then ask others about their thoughts and feelings about it.
- Explore differences.
—Be succinct and share the talking stick.
—Investigate differences of opinion by taking a position of curiousity.
- Use self-awareness as a resource.
—Notice your thoughts and reactions to what’s being said.
—Appropriately share those thoughts and feelings.
- Listen openly.
—Genuinely listen for others’ positions. Encourage them to be candid about their thoughts, feelings and perceptions.
Your Call to Action
When you’re chairing a meeting, will you apply those five guidelines?
And if you’re a non-chairing meeting attendee, either:
- Suggest to the chair (pre-meeting) that you’d like to propose the five guidelines for the meeting.
- Model the behaviours so that you subtly encourage other meeting attendees to adopt them too.
Conversations will be more robust and more authentic
- Attendees will feel like respected, valued contributors
- Trust levels will increase
- And a whole lot more will be accomplished!
“With your tremendous support and insights I was able to stay above
the ugliness and focus my energies on what was worth striving for
—and now I have a job that is the best one yet.My sincere thanks, Carolyn.
—Director of Clinical Services & Associate Professor
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader to flourish and become confident, courageous and impressively influential (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with it).
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She’ll draw on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit your situation.
She’s never too busy to talk to you—or to leaders you refer who’re in a hurry to boost their success. Email to arrange a time to chat: email@example.com