AFTER 17 YEARS IN REAL ESTATE, business coach Jacob Aldridge has sat through more than 6,800 meetings. You’ve probably been to a few yourself. If you’ve ever found yourself asking ‘Why am I here?’ you need to check out these five steps to making meetings more productive and valuable to all participants.
HAVE YOU EVER been to a meeting that was a waste of time? Surely not!
The ‘Why am I here?’ team meeting. The ‘We did this last week’ sales training. The ‘Death by PowerPoint’ conference. The ‘Can you cut your commission?’ listing presentation, and the ‘At least the alcohol is free’ awards function.
Been there. Bought the T-shirt. And thankfully, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way! Here are the simple steps you can implement immediately to make meetings work for your business.
1 IT’S ABOUT ENERGY
Sort through all the ideas about running better meetings – do them standing up, walking around, for 45 minutes instead of an hour – and you’ll realise there’s one thing they have in common: they recognise that great meetings flow and the energy is positive throughout.
When you run a meeting focusing on the energy more than any other element, you will create better meetings. To make that easier, my clients use what we call the ‘Momentum Meeting Model’ – an easy approach to keep things flowing.
2 THE QUESTION MARK AGENDA
A good meeting needs a clear agenda that every participant is aware of. For regular meetings, I recommend a set agenda that repeats each week to make this process easy. Whether there’s a set agenda or not, take the time at the start of each meeting to check with your team what else they want to cover; there may be some burning issues that warrant discussion, and you don’t want to leave those to the end.
Take the time to confirm the entire agenda before you start dealing with items. This allows you to triage what can be covered in the time available, and prioritise items. So many team meetings go bad because too much time is wasted on the first thought that comes up, and your team runs out of time to discuss specific items that are actually more important.
If you find your regular meetings usually descend into circular, pointless discussions, try this trick: make sure every agenda item ends in a question mark. This limits discussion to specific questions you can answer and resolve, saving everybody time.
3 GREAT EXPECTATIONS
The next step in the Momentum Meeting Model is confirming expectations. Usually a 30-second process, this avoids an enormous amount of meeting frustration. How much time does everybody have? Nothing worse than a key person leaving in the middle of an important discussion. Is anyone expecting any interruptions? It’s great you have a contract being signed this morning, but if you’d let us know in advance it would have been less disruptive.
And who is taking notes? Very few meetings require formal minutes to be recorded, but if you and your team are making agreements or committing to actions then you want someone to be responsible for recording those and sending them around afterwards.
4 DISCUSSION, SOLUTION, AGREEMENT
The bulk of most team meetings loop through these three steps. Take an item on the agenda, discuss it, review solutions or actions required, and then confirm there is agreement around that solution. Then move on to the next item.
As a leader, it’s important to distinguish between items that need communication and those that need a decision. Plenty of meetings descend into chaos when something needing communication – say a website update, or new admin process – turns into a debate. Also remember that meetings are not the place for implementation. This is where you communicate and decide, and then go back into the business to execute.
Meetings are a valuable tool often poorly applied. Blaming them for hours wasted is like blaming spoons for making you fat.
In the context of momentum, I recommend the first two or three agenda items you address be simple ones where you can discuss, solve and agree quite quickly. Seeing agenda items being crossed off helps energise everyone present.
It’s also okay that your agreement in a meeting is that you agree to disagree, or that a smaller group go away after the meeting to continue seeking a solution. If you’re running the meeting and feeling the energy, you will spot when you need to step in and shut down discussion in order to maintain momentum.
5 CONFIRM AGREEMENTS AND ACTIONS
The last item in any meeting is taking the time to confirm any agreements that have been made or actions that have been agreed. Make sure you allow time for this process.
Meetings are a valuable tool often poorly used. Blaming meetings for hours wasted is like blaming spoons for making you fat. Start applying the Momentum Meeting Model, and you’ll quickly begin to discover the value of the right people having the right discussions at the right time.