Ask a businessperson to come to a meeting and the likely response is, at the very least, a sinking feeling in the stomach. What’s your immediate reaction? What would make you feel worse, and what would make it feel less like you’re about to waste a few hours that you’ll never get back? So, what’s the problem with meetings and how can you improve meetings that you run?
What’s the purpose of the meeting?
There may be several reasons for a meeting. First consider why you’re asking people to come to a meeting, that shapes what you need to do to make the meeting less onerous. Is the meeting to:
- tell people something so they get a common message? Chinese whispers are one of the worst things a business can suffer from, with different members of staff hearing different things. Passing a message through other people will create this problem, telling everybody one will reduce it. BUT, if the only purpose is to tell everybody the same thing – you don’t need everybody to all meet up! Save time, send an email, or a video.
- ensure people all understand what you’re saying? Simply hearing the same message doesn’t mean that everybody interprets it in the same way, thus leading back to Chinese whispers. If you need everybody to have a shared understanding you need people to engage differently. But you may still be best not having a meeting, a simple message broadcast may still be more effective.
- discuss an issue(s) in order to improve the way you resolve the issue? Now we move to a good reason for having a meeting, engaging people, sharing understanding and doing something differently as a result. Sharing understanding and doing something differently are key here, read on for more about sharing understanding. If your intent is to take the same action regardless, do you need the meeting?
- all learn as a team? This sounds good and is basically the same as the point above. Read on for sharing understanding and learning together.
- bring you together as a team? You want to move to team nirvana, where the whole team act as a team and use the meeting as part of this journey? Good idea, your business could be better off as a result and your business (as opposed to just individuals learning). Again sharing understanding and acting differently in future are key here.
Be honest with yourself first. If the reason is about you feeling important, you bending the team’s will to your own, or similar, then a meeting is not the best option.
Why am I going on about meetings like this?
Meetings are one of the most hated things in business and one reason is that they’re help for the wrong reasons!
A second reason is because approaching half the room are normally alienated by the way the meeting is run. If you want your team to do something together, you change your meeting management to work with everybody.
Half the team alienated?
If you run your meetings like most facilitators you will have designed your meeting for extroverts and excluded or at least disincentivised the introverts in your team. There are differing estimations, but introverts could be 50% of your team, or more.
Introverts prefer to process thoughts differently (internal processing). Click here to understand what to do about this important difference.
Introverts don’t tend to like small talk and prefer more important and relevant discussion with fewer, closer, people. That implies they’re less likely to see meetings as relevant and certainly want to understand the importance of the meeting – before it begins. What can you send/ email/ explain beforehand? If they’re “onboard” before the meeting begins you have a new set of allies, the deep-thinking ones.
Click here to read “5 tips to make your meetings better and include introverts”
Improving your meetings
An interview with Helene Jewell of the International Association of Facilitators on how to improve your meetings.