Vail Daily column: ‘Shun’ your way to an effective meeting
Meetings are an essential part of running any business, team or organization. Businesses today find themselves with team members stretched across the country making virtual meetings commonplace. Whether the group resides in the same location or is geographically dispersed, pulling team members together remains a critical part of keeping people focused, on the same page and improving teamwork and synergy. Unfortunately, as many firms may see the number of meetings increasing, in my experience, their effectiveness has not.
Throughout the years, we’ve all been a part or maybe even led meetings that:
• Bored most of the attendees and few, if any, paid attention.
• Had circular conversations leaving us asking, “What’s the point?”
• Ran longer than necessary or over the allotted time.
• Didn’t address all topics because the agenda was poorly managed.
If you’ve had or been a part of any of these issues in the past, then read on. Ray Kelly, a colleague of mine at think2perform, shared a secret recipe he’s developed for running a successful meeting. That recipe for success includes each of the following “shuns” (tions):
• Education: Providing new tools or training to help people do their jobs more effectively. This could include sharing best practices of those who are achieving outstanding results.
• Information: These are important updates or things the team needs to know about the organization, its focus, clients or the business environment in which it operates.
• Recognition: Publicly identifying those individuals that are contributing to the organization’s success, leading by example and includes thanking them for their efforts. Remember, people work for money, marbles or chalk.
• Motivation: Inspiring best efforts, overcoming challenges, having fun and sharing the vision, mission and values of the organization. This gives people the context for their work and connects to their internal motivation.
Successful, effective meetings should have some of all these categories. Let the audience needs and past meetings dictate what percentage of each category is necessary for the group; the percentages don’t have to be allocated equally. Almost like a cocoon, education, information, recognition and motivation should all be encircled in proper preparation. Preparation involves knowing the topics, why they’re relevant to the audience, establishing estimated time limits for each agenda item and adequately preparing people for what they’ll be covering.
Finally, the difference between a good meeting and a great meeting has nothing to do with what happens during the meeting. Instead, the differentiator is what happens when the meeting ends; what counts is what people do once they get back to work, the final “shun”: Action. As each meeting finishes, it’s as simple as being clear about answering the “So what?” question. “So what are we going to do with what we just covered/discussed?” Too many times, meetings are left open ended without definite next steps. For a great meeting and effective results, never leave your audience wondering, “Who’s going to do what, when?”
Chuck Wachendorfer is a partner and president-distribution for Think2Perform, a consulting firm designed to help businesses and individuals achieve sustained optimal performance. He can be reached at 970-926-0841 or firstname.lastname@example.org.