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PRODUCTIVITY

7 Steps to Turn a Ho-hum Meeting Into a Success

No one wants to come to your boring meetings? Here's how to take them from bad to great.

You've just sent out the reminder for your weekly team meeting, and you receive one or more responses like this: "Do I really have to come to this meeting?" Or, "I'm just too busy to make it." What does that tell you?

Could it be that your meetings are boring, unproductive, and waste time? Bad meetings drone on and on, with few meaningful results. Great meetings leave everyone feeling energized, curious, and accomplished. Which category do your team meetings fall into?

Don't worry. There is a secret sauce for a great meeting, one that employees will look forward to and garners outstanding results. It boils down to making sure your meetings achieve a meaningful objective within a set time, keep attendees involved, and hold a touch of the unpredictable. Here's how.

1. Make meetings a priority.

Instead of rushing around last minute to figure out how to fill the time at weekly meetings, do your homework. Your employees will appreciate knowing that you're not wasting their time.

2. Have a plan.

You can't identify a great outcome unless you know what your objective is. Begin with that.

  • Do you want to brainstorm ideas for a specific client or internal solution?
  • Will you ask for status reports?
  • Are you making an important announcement?
  • Is the intent to boost morale?
  • What do you wish the outcome to be?

Now that you've identified your desired outcome, manage your meeting in a way that will bring it to fruition.

3. Begin with the objective.

Hand out an agenda, announce what you intend to achieve, and let everyone know who will address each topic.

4. Get them involved.

Be clear about expectations, and give your employees time to prepare for the meeting. Remember that you don't have to be responsible for all of the content. Keep your team members involved and challenged by giving them things to research, issues to solve, and creative challenges to address. They can present their best selves at each meeting.

5. Limit the niceties.

Some employers like to offer refreshments at their meetings. It's a great idea, and employees appreciate the little perk. But notice that the presence of food invites socializing and small talk. This can boost people's energy, which is good, but it usually prevents the meeting from starting on time. Keep the social catch-up time outside of the meeting as much as possible by inviting attendees to come five or 10 minutes early to help themselves to a beverage and snack. Don't conduct a runaway meeting by getting off to a late start.

6. Control the rambling.

It seems there's always that one person who rambles on and on and never gets to the point. Let people know up front how much time they have to offer input and hold them to it. Of course, the exception is in creative meetings, where you don't want to limit brainstorming.

7. Surprise them.

A little touch of the unexpected will delight and engage your team. At a recent meeting at ZinePak, CEO Brittany Hodak instructed each employee to randomly select one of the company values and offer an interpretation of the statement. Then each employee was tasked with becoming the guardian of the chosen value. It's now his or her job to infuse that value into every initiative at ZinePak and maintain its integrity. This fun plan gives employees ownership and keeps them involved in the welfare of the organization.

Once your meetings gain a reputation for being productive, well managed, and interesting, you should encounter less resistance from your employees and your own internal resistance will diminish. (Go ahead, admit it. You don't like your boring meetings either!) Remember, your lead impacts employee attitude and behavior. Create meaningful and productive meetings and they will participate full out.

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IMAGE: Getty Images
Last updated: Apr 29, 2014

MARLA TABAKA

Marla Tabaka is a small-business advisor who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She has over 25 years of experience in corporate and start-up ventures and speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness.




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