Impossible! Meetings suck! How can I run a meeting people actually like to attend?
Most people don’t realize how bad meetings reflect on their leadership, management, and reputation. A bad meeting can hurt you for weeks, months, or even years (sometimes FOREVER). With a few simple steps, you can virtually ensure a meeting which will please all attendees.
Here are some tips:
1. Make it short.
I always try to halve my meeting. If I need an hour, can I do it in 30 minutes? Two hours . . . 60 minutes? The shorter the meeting, the faster it will go (duh!) which is a boon for all the attendees. Stick to the topic at hand, don’t try to do too much, keep the blabbers down to a minimum and you can get out of there in record time.
2. Start with the end in mind.
Have a goal. Most meetings stink because they slowly meander through issues, tasks, results, or presentations. Figure out EXACTLY what needs to happen, what are the deliverables, and ensure each attendee is prepared to make decisions quickly. Have an agenda and stick to it. Everyone will thank you profusely.
I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve attended where the organizer had absolutely no idea why we were there. Or they came late, had no agenda, let the meeting go WAY off-course, etc. Sit down and architect the meeting — it should take you no longer than five minutes. Layout how you will start, what you’re going to present, what might happen, and what you want to walk away with.
4. Be visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.
People absorb information in different ways — if you are speaking another language, they won’t get it. So make sure you hit their visual (eyes), auditory (ears), and kinesthetic (touch – hug them!). My modus operandi: Use slides (visual), present by speaking (auditory), and have a backup sheet of paper (kinesthetic).
5. Arrive early.
I hate when the organizer is late to their own meeting. Be there ahead of time to ensure the room is organized, there are enough chairs, the LCD projector and your laptop are ready to roll, the temp is perfect, your agendas are in front of each chair, etc. If there is a problem or emergency, you have time to take care of it. I usually book important meeting rooms 15-30 minutes prior to the meeting to ensure no one is there and I have time to set up.
6. Greet attendees.
Welcome them and get them prepared for the meeting. Most organizers are rushing around doing everything in #5 — stand by the door and welcome people as they arrive — it adds a certain touch of professionalism. Trust me here.
7. Keep it flowing.
You are in the command chair. Stick to the agenda, keep your eye on the time and shut down anyone who tries to make it longer, take over the meeting, or goes way off topic. Ask to take their inquiries off-line and get back on-point.
8. Try to only attempt a few deliverables.
Too many organizers try to stick ten pounds of sugar in a five pound bag. Be realistic about what you can accomplish and focus only on the most important facts, information, and decisions. The more you try to add, you increase the chances of going off-course.
9. End early.
This is my gift to the attendees . . . TIME. Try to end 5-10 minutes early — don’t try to ‘fill-up’ the entire hour. If the meeting is winding down, close it quickly and get people on their way. You will get a favored reputation that you run efficient and on-point meetings. People will like to attend them.
10. Stay after the meeting.
Stick around to thank people for attending, answer any questions people might have, and follow up on any errant requests from the attendees. The more face time you give at the end, the faster the meeting will go.
If you do these simple steps in each of your meetings, you will develop a solid reputation as an accomplished presenter. People will enjoy coming to your meetings and your reputation as a professional will soar.