john cleese, judge, better meetings, Toby Elwin, blog

5 tips to manage better meetings

Toby Elwin Blog, Organization Behavior 2 Comments

Meetings Bloody Meetings, John Cleese, Toby Elwin, blog

This judge says, “your meetings are bloody awful”
view below or select to open John Cleese – Meetings, bloody meetings on YouTube

Meetings, meetings, and more meetings. We have meetings to clear up confusion, to communicate, to interact, to make decisions, to listen, and to collaborate.

Too many meetings end without clear decisions and too often it is not until after the meeting is finished that the real conversations begins and people:

  • complain about not being heard,
  • complain about pushy agendas,
  • hold back promised cooperation,
  • complain about lack of involvement

Those type of meetings waste time and create acrimony, which wastes energy. They don’t accomplish anything more than creating more work and derailing collaboration.

Groups are smarter than individuals, but only when groups allow individuals the chance to contribute.

Here are 5 tips to help manage meetings:

  1. Pass out an agenda, with goals, objectives, and actions as well as sources for important information to discuss in the meeting. Pass this out as early as you can, as late as 24 hours ahead of the meeting, if you can. Review the agenda at the start of the meeting. Tie the goals, objectives, and actions to an on-going strategy to remind people the linkage to executive or operational strategy as well as progress
  2. When a new idea is presented, the next person who speaks must support that idea: instead of devil’s advocate, an angel’s advocate
  3. Use meetings to collaborate on risk resolution, not to update people on status or progress; when you count on people to deliver as promised you shift the meeting from accountability to creative collaboration to resolve risk: results. Make sure to assign responsibility and an estimate date to resolve new items. The Project Management Institute defines risk as anything that can positively or negatively impact the outcome; positive risk, called opportunity
  4. Read body language and understand what people are saying through their body language, 80% of communication is body language. Clear communication is the intention of holding meetings. Don’t ignore body language: Before a decision gets made, facilitate group involvement, to include supporting lone dissension or providing time when a teammate is clearly uncomfortable
  5. Build on the ongoing discussion, someone can only signal a change of subject by first asking, is it OK to change the subject…

Getting things done and getting things accomplished are two very different goals. The effort invested to run better meetings is saved from later misunderstanding.

Poorly run meetings may be the root why upwards of 90% of all projects fail.

Is it better to get through a meeting and drive consensus if people don’t commit and don’t understand?   Time is a resource as much as money, and unlike money you can never earn time.

If you take time to guide meeting involvement, with the above suggestions, you will find meetings can become a source for great energy and collaboration, instead of dread and fear.

Make the above suggestions part of your pre-meeting communication, coach and cultivate people to adopt and own their commitment to meeting guidelines.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

3 sources:

  1.  Project Management Institute
  2. John Cleese and his corporate training video:  Meetings, Bloody Meetings

Primal Leadership, Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee

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