Unfortunately, many leaders still use old and outdated meeting-management techniques that fail to create effective meetings. Even with a solid agenda and strong task leadership, one huge problem continues to get in the way: people!
Distractions, groupthink, lack of comfort with conflict, overly quiet or talkative people, and other aspects of human nature get in the way of making team meetings productive.
Here are 5 techniques that tap into people’s best sides. They get team members to be enthusiastic and hold productive meetings. They will produce extraordinary results.
How do I know? I have used them all, and seen them work magic — over and over again.
1. Include a little pain. Leaders make the mistake of focusing on “smooth” and “quick” meetings, but that’s not the point. The magic of team meetings comes from having difficult conversations – challenging opinions, the clash of ideas, the topics no one wants to discuss. Ask for, listen to, and discuss the hard questions – that’s where the gold is.
2. Create connections before meetings. Have short personal “meetings” – no more than 7 minutes – with key people. Not emails, but calls or a face-to-face drop in. Ask “What’s going on? How are things?” You might talk about a pressing project concern or what happened over the weekend. The point is to stay connected. Meetings are a waste of time if people are not connected.
3. Listen to the quiet people. The best ideas are often buried in the quietest person in the room. I have seen many teams fall into the trap of ignoring passive attendees. Don’t let more vocal people lead the conversation. When running a meeting, your job is to create results, not fill air time. Tell the loudmouths to settle down! Ask quiet people for their thoughts; encourage the team to work together – even the passive ones – to find better solutions.
4. Don’t address everything. Team meetings can ramble on and on in an attempt to cover everything. Instead of trying to accomplish everything, focus on the meeting’s specific topic. When you get off track, stop the discussion. Say, “This is a good topic for our next meeting. Let’s stay on topic.”
5. End with a huddle. Most sports teams start with a huddle; getting psyched up or reviewing the strategy one more time. Meetings are the opposite. You should end them with a huddle. End with a brief, “How did we do?” or “How was participation, decision making, and time management?“ This ensures your team is continually improving your meetings.
Which meeting techniques do you use? Which would you like to try? Add these tips, and I guarantee your team meetings will be more engaging and productive.