How to run a great meeting
I recently came across a tool which estimates the cost of a meeting, http://bit.ly/2kiuU9P and it got me thinking about how many ineffective meetings I observe and have been part of. One stat that stood out to me the most was this…
“In a study of time budgeting at large corporations, Bain & Company found that a single weekly meeting of midlevel managers was costing one organisation $15M a year!”
So how do you structure a meeting?
In most meetings, we observe people jumping straight into content, meaning discussing what they think the meeting topic is. This meeting usually has a time limitation, and delegates feel under more pressure to get straight to the point and discuss the topic in hand.
In truth, cutting short the effective meeting process usually results in achieving far less than if attendees had absolute clarity on what they were there to discuss, on how they were going to use their time and (for certain topics) how they will come to a decision.
5 easy steps
Start using this model in all your meetings – at first it will feel awkward and you may feel like you are wasting time but soon it will become second nature.
What does everyone think the purpose of the discussion is?
It is important to check in that everyone is on the same page and have absolute clarity on what you are looking to achieve in the time together.
If the purpose and objective seem unrealistic in the allocated time, then re-contract to try to do something achievable.
What is the process you need to follow to ensure you meet the process?
Mapping out the whole process with a long discussion is not necessary, as you may agree on the first part and decide how to progress as you are halfway through. If part of your desired outcome is to come to a decision, you should agree how that decision will be made.
How should this decision be made? – What is the most appropriate action? – Who should be involved?
Has the same decision been made before? If so, what was the outcome or lesson?
Does it affect other decisions made? If so, how?
Does a decision need to be made at all? Is it redundant?
What is the urgency/timing? When does it need to be made?
Be aware of “Group Think” – Groupthink was identified by the American author Irving Janis. He analysed some of the disastrous decisions made in the public sector, such as the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam and Watergate. He concluded that the bad decisions were caused by peer pressure to conform, by short-sightedness in looking at the options and by high-stress levels which affected judgement. Peer pressure can force members of a group to conform against their better judgement and not state their view.
Having become clear about purpose and process, discuss the real issue or question that needs to be resolved.
Putting in a process does not negate time for free debate – it just ensures that it doesn’t stop you from achieving your aims.
Be mindful to watch time and if you feel a change in the purpose or process needs to be discussed based on the nature of your conversation, then do it.
At the end of your discussion, confirm the decisions made and agree on the actions to be taken.
Address time frames and communication needing to happen because of the decisions made.
In a longer meeting, build in time to review ‘how’ you ran/are running the meeting.
With meetings that last a few hours, it is great to have a five-minute review at mid-point and then at the end.
Check in with everyone on what is going well and how it could be improved to meet the objective, alongside making it a good experience for attendees.
Sounds simple, but when applied skillfully and with the right intent the process can transform your meetings.
Like a pair of new shoes, they may feel uncomfortable at first but the more you wear them in the more comfortable they will feel.
Give it a go….and let me know how you get on.