In order to get the most out of your meetings focus on two things:

  • The structure of agenda items
  • The way you engage

Structure:

Meetings frequently fail for two reasons:

  • The group moved to action too quickly. They focused on the wrong actions. This creates rework.
  • The group spent too much time understanding the context. They didn’t settle on actions. This creates wasted time.

 

A quick model to improve the structure this is to repurpose a coaching model: GROW.

For every agenda item make sure you:

Goal.

Understand the goal. Get clear and specific on what you are here to meet about. A good question to help you is: How will we know if this conversation has been successful?

Reality.

Take time to understand the context. You need this for two reasons.

  1. To make decisions based on all the available information.
  2. To understand what information each of the attendees is basing their solutions on. If they are missing some information their solutions will reflect it.

Options.

What different options could you explore? Avoid stopping at one option. The most obvious options are not always the best options. Usually they are the options generated by the most vocal people.

Wrap Up.

Once you have selected your best options, focus on the specific, measurable actions you will be taking. If you find it difficult to get attendees to take accountability for actions it usually means that they don’t fully buy into the option selected. Revisit the options. Is there something that is better?

How to engage in meetings:

Sometimes the structure of your meetings are sound but you still don’t get the results you are looking for. It could be that the way you are being in meetings needs attention. Nancy Kline’s book Time to Think is an excellent resource for this. Here are some ground rules you can set based on her approach:

  • Give your full, undivided and expectant attention to whoever is talking
  • Ask questions that remove assumptions
  • Give equal turns to everyone so that you hear from the extroverts and introverts
  • Show appreciation of one another’s ideas even if you don’t agree
  • Have fewer agenda items and cover them fully. Stop rushing!
  • Acknowledge areas where people feel strongly. This allows people to let go of the emotion to restore their thinking
  • Choose a venue that works
  • Allow for dissenting voices

 

What you need to remember:

  1. Use the GROW model when you meet
  2. Pay attention to how you behave in the meeting to hear everyone’s voice

What’s your favourite tip for making the most of meetings?

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