A recent survey about the inefficiencies of meetings revealed that 50 percent of employees would rather watch paint dry or go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) than go to a project status meeting. You feel their pain, don't you? We've all suffered through unproductive, useless meetings that leave attendees crying "WHY???"  

Meetings are indeed an important part of business life. In fact, a recent Gallup poll discovered that employees whose managers hold regular meetings with them are almost three times as likely to be engaged as employees whose managers do not hold regular meetings with them. So how you can go from Zero to Hero as a meeting facilitator?

Whether your meeting is 10 minutes or an hour, and whether it's with your customers or employees, use this 3-point checklist to ensure a positive, productive outcome for everyone.

1: Clearly define to yourself why you are holding this meeting.

Answer these questions:

·       Why do you need to hold this meeting NOW?

·       What's at stake if you do not hold this meeting?

·       What are you expecting from people at the end of this meeting?

·       Are you prepared to hold them accountable?

2: Get the right people in the room.

You're holding a meeting, not throwing a party. The smaller number of attendees the better. Identify who is absolutely essential to your objectives, and only include them. You can always brief a larger team later.

3: Set expectations.

Prior to your meeting:

1: Outline your expectations for the meeting. What do you want to discuss? What do you want to share? What are you expecting from the other people?

2: Share your expectations/agenda with the participants, and ask them the same questions.

3: Create a formal agenda (on paper) that combines all expectations and share with the participants.

At the beginning of the meeting:

1: Review the agenda one more time.

2: Ask if anyone has any modifications and revise accordingly.

Immediately following the meeting:

1: Follow up with a recap to include what was discussed, what issues were parked for a later time, and assigned action items.

2: Assign dates to any expected outcomes.

3: Ask participants if you missed anything in your recap.

This process works great for any kind of meeting, whether it's a new employee check-in, a team meeting, a strategy meeting, a customer meeting, or any other meeting in which people may be showing up with misaligned expectations and objectives (which is potentially every meeting!). Setting clear expectations is one of Mark Zuckerberg's meeting strategies as well. 

Never assume:

1: That you know what others want and expect

2: That others want and expect the same outcomes as you do

3: That people will speak up when they are not encouraged to do so

And then there's technology.

Finally, one administrative item. If people are attending remotely via video or phone, schedule in lead-time for you or your admin assistant prior to the meeting to ensure everything is up and running, and set a firm deadline for when people can log on. Nothing disengages attendees faster than malfunctioning technology, and nothing disrupts the flow of a meeting faster than the constant beeping of people coming on the line. Courtesy & respect for other people's time should always be non-negotiable in any meeting.

Good luck!