How often have we laughed, albeit ruefully, when someone makes the comment “Death By PowerPoint,” or “Death By Details,” or, as Patrick Lencioni wrote in his book, “Death By Meeting.”
If we have to meet, why are we allowing ourselves to do it so badly?
Two reasons: we don’t realize how bad our meetings are. And if we do realize it, we don’t know how to change them.
At SUPERB Communication we look at twenty different activities under six broad themes that paint a picture of meeting (and organizational) health. Here are the top three reasons meetings make you want to hit yourself on the head with a hammer, and what you can do to transform those meetings into exciting, productive events.
1. Avoid Multiple Stories
Every meeting is a story, with a beginning, middle, and end. Key characters support that story. Most meeting planners put every topic under the sun on the meeting agenda—and invite every person to the meeting, though only a few are useful to the agenda. The result is a diluted and unclear story, unengaged participants, and lack of productive direction to move forward.
Tip: Organize and Focus. Organize your organization’s meetings into categories: daily, weekly, topical, and quarterly. Focus each meeting on a single story, supported by a focused agenda. Invite only the characters needed.
2. Improve Meeting Usefulness
Informational meetings are not useful. The same can be achieved with a memo. Reading background material during the meeting is not useful. Participants check out and begin to daydream about other activities. Inviting participants without valuing their expertise and contribution is not useful to that person and to the team. Creative talent that is not valued will eventually go somewhere else.
Tip: Plan and Prepare: Plan the type of meeting you wish to have and distribute information ahead of time. Set an expectation that reading background information needs to be read before the meeting. Then, invite contribution of ideas and creativity.
3. Protect against Hubris
Sadly, hubris (blindness caused by pride or over-confidence) is one of the most prevalent destroyer of potentially great meetings. Leaders are the catalyst and the motivator of the organizational vision. Leading the vision and leading the meeting are often counter productive because leaders can’t run everything themselves, try as they may. The result is lack of perspective or compromised effectiveness.
Tip: Find a second set of eyes to help you see what you cannot. Enlist trusted others to help you identify blind spots and opportunities. Remind yourself that while you are ultimately responsible, there are others with the desire and expertise to help, if you’ll invite them to do so!
Meetings are one of the most important vehicles for executing the organization’s vision and engaging creativity. Focused, useful, and inviting meetings can reignite the fire to perform in your people’s hearts. Transform your meetings and you’ll transform your organization.
If you need help facilitating or designing SUPERB Meetings that work, contact us. We’d love to help!