Elements Consulting

Facilitating Pathways to Success

Weekly Communications

Renewl Leadership: Lead Better Meetings

Posted by elementsconsulting on May 5, 2016 at 11:30 AM

April 21, 2016

Keeping Meetings On Track


Meetings are an incredibly effective tool for moving teams, projects, ideas and goals forward however there is nothing more annoying that a meeting that goes on and on or gets driven off-track fast.


The good news is that meeting management is not all that complicated however the bad news is that keeping a meeting on track takes discipline, and few leaders make the effort to get it right. “The fact is people haven’t thought about how to run a good meeting, or they’ve never been trained, or they’re simply too busy,” says Bob Pozen, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, senior fellow at Brookings Institute, and author of Extreme Productivity. “Organizations are moving faster and faster these days and few managers have time to think through their meetings in advance,” says Roger Schwarz, an organizational psychologist and author of Smart Leaders, Smarter Teams. So whether you’re getting ready for a weekly team meeting or convening a larger group to discuss your division’s strategy, it’s important to put in the effort. Here’s how to make your next meeting your most productive one yet.


Make the Purpose Clear

A lot of problems can be avoided by stating the reason and expectation for getting together right up front. Send an agenda and any background materials ahead of time so people know what you’ll cover. Consider sending a list of things that won’t be discussed in the meeting as well. If you do not know the purpose of your meeting, you should not be having one.


Control the Size

Meetings can get out of control if there are too many people in the room, but with too few people, you may not have enough diversity of opinion. Only include those who are critical to the meeting.


Set the Right Tone

Model a learning mindset instead of using the time to convince people of your viewpoint, be open to hearing other’s perspectives. Explain that you don’t have all the answers, nor does anyone else in the room. Be willing to be wrong.


Manage Ramblers

For someone who is prone to long-windedness, talk with her ahead of time or during a break, and ask that she keep her comments to a minimum to allow others to be heard.


Control Tangents

Sometime an individual raises extraneous points and can derail a meeting quickly. Try to refocus them on the stated agenda and if someone intentionally goes on a tangent they may feel territorial about a decision or is unhappy with the direction of the conversation. Rather than accuse the person of trying to derail your meeting, ask what’s going on.


Make Careful Transitions

Before you transition from one agenda item to another, ask if everyone is finished with the current topic. This will help keep the conversation focused.


End the Meeting Well

A productive meeting needs to end on the right note to set the stage for the work to continue. What are the next steps? Who should take responsibility for them? And what should the timeframe be? Send a email with all the updates so that everyone is on the same page.

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