As someone whose job it is to make things, I’m not crazy about meetings. They me away from my primary responsibility and what I really like to do. This makes it difficult when we live in a world where meetings have overtaken the workday.
However, recently I attended one of the best meetings I have ever been to. I didn’t go into it expecting much. I expected the typical “average” large group meeting. Many times, these meetings or conference calls start with a blanket invitation (so nobody is left out) – they invite 10 people you’ve never heard of and give you only a vague idea what it’s about. Here’s how those meetings can go, the call starts late, the person who scheduled the call makes a vague statement about a topic you weren’t expecting, the 10 people you’ve never heard of all give their opinions on the topic they have only a general awareness of, in order to make sure their voice is heard. Meanwhile, you don’t get a chance to explain anything, you hang up with no clear direction and have to have another call with your main contact after they’ve had two other internal meetings in order to figure out what you’re meant to do.
This meeting was nothing like that. I’m pretty sure that I shouldn’t be shocked by this. But this one was different and when you break it down, should be easy enough to implement. Here’s how it went.
- Show up on time and start when the key people are ready to start. The leader of my miracle call was there on time and aware of who was not going to be able to make it as well as who he had invited.
- Lead the meeting. He stated his two reasons for scheduling the call at the beginning of the meeting and who in particular needed to participate in the conversation around each topic. The other people were clued in that they may be called on for an answer about their particular bit of knowledge if needed.
- Assign clear goals and tasks for follow-up. The first topic began with a simple question, the person who knew the answer gave it, a task was assigned to a specific group of people, and we moved on.
- Listen and understand. The second topic required more explanation, which we were allowed to give. The leader understood the context and the content of what we said and asked smart questions when he didn’t.
- Be respectful while being in control. He was respectful of our time and allowed us to be knowledgeable about the things we are knowledgeable about without having to prove that he was the boss. We all knew that already.
- Summarize, confirm, and be clear about next steps. The call ended with him setting a clear path forward, asking for any relevant opinion, and reconfirming what the conclusion to each of his topics had been and what would happen next.
Brilliant in its simplicity. The next time you lead a meeting try this. We’re all busy trying to move things forward and everyone appreciates getting a little time back in their day. This meeting process will help.