“The hard truth is, bad meetings almost always lead to bad decisions,
–Patrick Lencioni, Death by Meeting
Let’s talk about your meetings, shall we?
All over the world, meeting notices are being emailed to participants. And all over the world, there are usually some version of the three responses below.
1. Glee. YES!!!! Total and absolute excitement to be in a room with you and the others.
2. Dread. This meeting, again. Ugh.
3. Denial. No response. No show.
Which do you think is the most common?
Why do you think this is?
What can you do about it?
You can START them differently.
The first 5 to 10 minutes of your next meeting have the power to set a powerful and purposeful tone. Are you leveraging the power of the beginnings of your meetings?
Change the Way you START your Meetings
What if you were to be more deliberate about the BEGINNINGS of your meetings? Here are 3 changes you can make, starting today, to help you create more meaningful and productive meetings in your organization.
1. Take an inventory. Think about the 3 most frequent meetings you attend and/or lead. How do they typically start? What’s working about the beginnings of those meetings? What isn’t? What is the mood or tone that’s set as a result? Get clear about how your most important meetings begin. And if you’re not sure, make it a goal to notice this about the meetings you lead and/or attend for the rest of this month. Take notes. Take notice.
2. Accentuate the Positive. One of my favorite ways to help clients change the level of engagement and impact with their meetings is to encourage them to START with what’s working. Starting with a round of “What’s New & Good” or “Bright Spots” is a great way to get people thinking about the successes and positive things that are happening in the organization. When you start a meeting with “Here’s the problems we’re dealing with” or “Here’s what my problem is” or by nit-picking things apart, you are entering a dangerous zone. The thoughts, beliefs and attitudes of each of the meeting attendees is being lowered with every negative comment. And that leads to poor decision making and a lack of ability to think creatively about how to solve the problems and challenges in your organization. START with celebration and gratitude. START with what’s working. CREATE a positive space for creative problem solving and open/honest discussion.
3. Ask better questions. What if you were to ask better questions at the beginning of your meeting to create context, alignment and discovery? Instead of “What are we going to do about xxx problem?” try asking “Let’s revisit our purpose. What is our shared vision for the end result of this process or project?” Once aligned, you could ask the group what questions THEY have about the process or project. This kind of inquiry at the outset of a meeting an go a long way towards creating context, alignment, discovery and engagement.
The quality of your questions will impact the quality of your meeting. Why not START with powerful questions that drive engagement and results?
Questions can be powerful tools for alignment and discovery OR they can be used go deeper into the pit of the problem, a likely unproductive space. Getting clear about the questions your asking and elevating them may be just the change you need to START your meetings differently.
BE DELIBERATE about how you START your meetings.
1. What are the key meetings being held in your organization?
2. What are you willing to do to be more deliberate about how you START those meetings?
3. What impact would that have on you, those you lead and those you serve?
Read: Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni
Watch: How to Save The World by David Grady
Listen: Radical Candor – How to Make Meetings Less Awful