Meetings (work-related or otherwise) can be such a drag. They usually take too long and often go off on tangents. You may feel like your voice is never heard (or you find yourself biting your tongue), and, once the meeting is finally over, you find yourself wondering, what was the point of that, anyway?
But imagine this type of meeting:
- You get to sit next to the smartest people you know, and they actually care about what you have to say.
- They recognize and appreciate the specific skills you bring to the table, and check in to ask for your expertise or opinion during discussions.
- They provide you with specific end goals and action steps, and hold you accountable to yours.
Doesn’t that sound like a much more enjoyable meeting?
Around Pierce County, thousands of meetings happen every single day. They include parents planning the week’s activities, non-profit organizations coming up with next quarter’s development plan, teachers discussing curriculum changes, city officials working with citizens over potential big changes… the list goes on. These meetings can be a significant time commitment for all involved. If there are 10 people at a two-hour meeting, that equates to twenty hours of time! But if nothing comes of the meeting except frustration and negativity, what kind of economic, social, political, and cultural environment are we creating?
One of the biggest reasons meetings can get off-track is that goals are not clearly outlined at the beginning. Are you meeting with someone to get to know him or her? Are you meeting because you are disagreeing and need to come to a compromise? Are you meeting to discuss ways to increase productivity? Are you meeting to brainstorm?
The second biggest reasons meetings can go haywire (or simply be boring or pointless) is that many people lack the skill of understanding different perspectives. No one wants to be judged and/or talked at! We all have an intrinsic desire to be heard and understood.
Here at the CDR, facilitating meetings is one of our specialties. We more than moderate—we prepare, keep the focus clear, and make sure everyone is heard. Our aim is to make sure every meeting is joy-filled and productive for all parties involved.
Here are a few tips to ensure your next meeting is efficient and effective (and enjoyable):
#1. Prepare. Know what you’re going to talk about, and have the documents you need printed and in front of you. If it’s a big meeting with a big decision at the end, we recommend a minimum of two hours preparation time for every hour of meeting time.
#2. Set an agenda. Even with the best preparation, meetings can still go haywire if there’s not an agenda that’s been committed to by all parties. Designate talking points and even consider setting time limits for each topic. Share the agenda ahead of time so participants can be more prepared. This will make the best use of everyone’s time.
#3. Listen, and listen well. Be conscious of the fact that just because someone feels differently than you does not mean his or her feelings or opinions are invalid. Make sure that if people have something to say, they get a chance to say it.
#4. Set clear action steps. Many of the frustrations and disagreements that take place in professional arenas stem from expected actions that are never realized. Assign someone to record a solid document outlining all proposed action steps, end goals, and decisions made. Make sure all attending parties receive the document, as it will provide accountability for everyone.
We hope this helps, and that your next meeting is more productive, effective, and enjoyable. We believe that good communication and positive outcomes lead to joy. May your next meeting be a joyful one!