It’s Monday morning. As I sort through my inbox, I realize 15 of my e-mails are meeting invitations that have automatically populated my calendar. While I’m refilling my coffee mug, I hear my computer beep. “Please, not another meeting!” I mumble.
We all dread meetings — whether they are held on the phone, via videoconferencing, in a conference room or at a hotel lounge. Oh, the time wasted listening to others bantering needlessly, digressing annoyingly. For what? To schedule another meeting!
Making meetings matter is an art, a thing of beauty when it’s done right. Why don’t we strive to conduct them as if they are symphonies?
First, develop a clear, very specific objective for the meeting and announce it in advance.
Know exactly what you want as the outcome. Don’t invite ten people to a meeting to discuss sales goals. Invite them to a meeting to discuss “what actions should be taken to achieve this month’s sales goal”.
Next, ask everyone to come to the meeting with a list of the most powerful actions they can take to accomplish the objective.
Ask one participant to share their ideas.
Yes, you can put someone on the spot because you set a clear expectation. Use a flip chart or note pad to record the ideas.
Ask other participants to add their ideas. Remind them that it should be an action that has not been previously mentioned.
Reduce the list to the 3–5 most powerful actions by voting.
Ask for a commitment.
In other words, which actions will they personally take, how much will they do, when will they begin and what result will they commit to delivering.
Follow this process and your meetings should run no more than 30 minutes and will end with specific actions to achieve an objective, rather than with the scheduling of more meetings.
Cynthia Leverich is Director of Global Business Development for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.