Why do so many people say, “I hate meetings.” It must be because they’ve attended so many bad ones. A bad meeting can range from merely boring to one filled with acrimony. Indeed, these unpleasant experiences have given meetings a bad name. It doesn’t have to be that way.
As long as there are issues and projects that require cooperative efforts, there will be meetings. They are a necessary and important part of our work lives. A great meeting is a challenging and satisfying social and intellectual experience, where one is engaged on many levels. It culminates in a sense of accomplishment.
Here are five basic attributes of a great meeting. As a leader, make your meetings:
PURPOSEFUL: Meetings must have a definite purpose and substance. If you don’t have a clear purpose, don’t have a meeting.
PRODUCTIVE: For people to feel good about the time spent at a meeting, productivity is essential. “Getting something done” is a baseline requirement.
STIMULATING: To feel good about the time and effort invested in a meeting, people need to be invigorated by the human interaction. The meeting needs to be at least satisfying and hopefully inspiring. Elevate the conversation to its highest level, not the lowest common denominator.
EFFICIENT: Although each of us can easily find ways to waste our own time individually, it is somehow far less tolerable to have other people waste our time, such as when we feel “captive” at a poorly run meeting.
FUN: Some meetings have a serious context that precludes much if any humor, but the majority of meetings can be improved with some lightheartedness. Take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy the human connection and to see the humor in a situation, even if the overall context is serious.
Using these five guidelines will help you design and conduct meetings that people will enjoy and look forward to attending. The ultimate guideline is simple: If you’re going to have a meeting, make it a great one.
Mary Luttrell helps companies solve complicated problems and resolve dilemmas, turning challenges into opportunities. She is a specialist in strategic planning, marketing, organizational development, meeting and retreat facilitation, and leadership coaching. With more than 25 years of consulting experience, she is known for her ability to create inspired yet practical plans of action. Ms. Luttrell is a Certified Management Consultant whose firm was named one of the 100 Leading Management Consulting Firms in North America by industry analyst James Kennedy. To receive her white paper, The Four Cornerstones of Business Success, contact Ms. Luttrell at firstname.lastname@example.org.