You’ve been there – the meeting that never ends, the one that is not well-planned, the one where you are wondering why you are even there.    Board meetings, committee meetings, innovation meetings, staff meetings, planning meetings…so many meetings, so little time.    Even though you can find many tips for running more productive meetings, we still struggle.

So I challenge you to read on, and pick one thing – just one thing to commit to doing differently for your next meeting.

Let’s look at the before, during and after.

Before  – answer the questions what, why, and when.  Let the attendees know what the topic is, why you are discussing it, and how much time you will need for it.  Seems simple, but usually people are not feeling committed to the meeting because they don’t know why they have to go (that is what the eye rolling means as they walk down the hall to the meeting).  So if you are going to talk about the budget because you just got a windfall and want to brainstorm how best to invest it, tell them in advance.  Plan that agenda thoughtfully in advance.

During – stay focused, involve them, and respect time.  If you are one to provide binders full of interesting information at your meetings, it’s time to give it up.  Try to keep it simple, without minutia.  And adults learn primarily by doing, so keep it participatory.  You lecture, they sleep.  You ask, they contribute.  Ask for their ideas – one of the most effective ways to engage people is to ask their advice on something meaningful.  Then they feel valued.  And stick to the time you requested of them.  Better yet, try to adjourn a few minutes early and they’ll be more likely to come willingly to your next meeting.

By the way, be thoughtful about venue.  If it’s too noisy, too cold, too smelly, too far away, you will have a challenge on your hands.  Wherever you hold your meeting, keep in mind that food helps, too.  We are simple creatures, and we show up for food.

After – before you leave the meeting state what the next steps are going to be and who is accountable for following through on them.  This is the big “so what”.  Even when you have your best meeting mojo going on, if people leave the room without connecting the dots, it will be for naught.

So now pick one thing.  What do you think your team could benefit from the most?  Give it a whirl!

For more tips on advanced facilitation, send me an email and let’s chat.