Meetings can be productive, energizing forces for change and growth. You heard it here first. Well, you may have heard of these mythical effective, efficient meetings before but perhaps thought they were like unicorns. In fact, they’re real. The meetings, not the unicorns. Andrea Jung, former Avon CEO and Apple board member has seen them: “I feel like I’m part of history being made. I leave Apple board meetings, thinking, ‘I’ve got to do a better job.” She’s inspired, motivated by meetings and charges out to do a better job. How can you run meetings that create that much buzz in your people?
While I was with Atlantis, we had to overhaul our Monday morning meetings. These 8:00am bombs were not driving our objective of getting focused for the week, so we put them into the capable hands of the team. We asked: what do you need to get from these meetings, and how can you make sure they deliver? These were the elements they came up with:
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- Clearly defined objectives. 63 percent of typical meetings do not have a prepared agenda. While winging it may seem spontaneous, it ultimately wastes time. Instead of free-styling it, have clear objectives. What do we need to accomplish? Stick to that rather than filling your allotted time.
- Marketing the meeting. Building the right expectation around a meeting is crucial to effective meeting management. Market your meetings to your employees just as you would market a product to a customer. Generate intrigue and anticipation by getting creative. Wouldn’t you much rather attend a Monday morning Priority Meeting, than a Weekly Status Meeting?
- Reward and recognition. When you build in a reward/recognition element, you improve engagement, especially if a variety of contributions are noted. It could be recognizing a team for closing a sale or executing a project; it could be honouring an individual who demonstrated company values; it could be tipping the hat to someone who took time out to go beyond for a customer or team member.
- Education and innovation. In these member-led meetings, learning was a critical piece. Whether it was someone bringing in information on a new vendor or talking about a process that could improve productivity, these nuggets of wisdom help teams keep abreast of trends and changes and generate ideas and discussion.
- Camaraderie. 8:00am on a Monday morning. Not an easy sell. So why sell it! We moved the meeting to 8:45am. From 8:45 to 9:00 was social time, a chance to grab some coffee chat, have fun. The actual meeting started at 9:00am. Even when people showed up “late” at 8:55am, they were early. But we found that people showed up on time because they didn’t want to miss out on the social piece – which, by the way, is crucial to team building.
These changes sound small, and they are. Therein lays their beauty and efficacy. These were generally the most important meetings we had each week and provided the best return on investment. The thing to remember is meetings are hugely expensive. If you add up the billing rate of each person in the room and multiply it by the number of participants, a single meeting is a substantial investment. You need to have a positive ROI to justify that. And don’t be cheap! A breakfast pastry and fresh pot of coffee can go along way in creating meeting effectiveness, and the cost will be significantly less than what you are spending in wages during that one hour. If a few small incentives are what you need to get maximum value out of your people for that one hour – provide it! Implementing these steps or others that are tailored to the creativity and needs of your people, will get you that ROI – and that buzz.