These three types of meetings are guaranteed to make you look good with your boss, your staff (if you have any), and your peers. I’m going to explore how to have successful status meetings, celebratory meetings, and one-on-one meetings. And I’m tacking on links to some of the best content on the web about meetings.
First a caveat: I hate meetings! Really hate meetings. I’ve been in more meetings than I can count over many years in business. Most of the meetings I’ve been in have been a time suck. My goal is to share lessons learned so you have successful, effective, and efficient meetings.
Rules for status meetings
Status meetings are when a group gets together to share progress reports on their work. These meetings can be done very well or they can turn into a gabfest. Stick to some basics and you’ll do fine.
Put together an agenda
An agenda is your best friend if you are running a meeting. You have to think about what you want to cover in the meeting and what you don’t need to cover. Think about who needs to be in the meeting–and who doesn’t need to be there. Prioritize the items on the agenda, starting with the most important point first. The only reason to deviate from that order is if the group has unfinished business that needs to be resolved before tackling the new business.
Set time limits
Assign time limits to each item on the agenda. You need to do this so you can make sure you’re not cramming too much into the meeting.
Use the agenda and the time limits to keep meeting derailers on track. If Bob tries to move his issue from #3 to #1, you explain briefly why #1 is first and that you’ll get to Bob’s issue—if everyone observes the time frames.
The time limits help you rope in long-winded speakers. Each person thinks his/her topic is most important. Due to that, Jean may want to tell the group absolutely everything she’s been up to. You can remind her of the time limits to bring her back into focus.
Think of it as a Twitter post—140 characters. That’s it. When you’ve run out of characters, you have to stop.
Realize you may have to table an item or two for later until you get very good at setting an agenda. Try to limit your agenda only to those topics everyone needs to know about. If there is a topic that just you and Bob need to review, do it outside the group meeting.
Begin and end on time
Regardless of the type of meeting, make it a habit to start on time and end on time. If you do that consistently, your team will learn to show up on time and to be succinct. Time is today’s currency; always respect it.
Send the agenda out ahead of time
Ahead of time can be a day or even an hour. There are two reasons for doing this. First, it gives people time to prepare their update and make it fit the allotted time. Second, introverts like to get the agenda ahead of time so they can absorb what will happen and when.
Congrats for a job well done!
You like to hear “thank you” or “well done” from your boss, don’t you? So do the folks who work with you. This type of meeting is to celebrate what someone has accomplished. You don’t need to be the boss to plan this. In fact, your boss might appreciate you offering to plan such a gathering and to make it happen. Order the cake or pizza, reserve the room, get balloons—whatever.
Let’s say Antonio and Elizabeth have just passed their exams to be certified public accountants (CPAs). That’s a great reason to throw a little fete. Get your boss’s approval then go for it. Your agenda—it’s just for you—looks like this.
3 p.m. You thank everyone for gathering in the training room (or wherever).
3:05 The top person in your office says a few words, congratulating Antonio and Elizabeth and talking about what a big deal it is to pass the CPA exam.
3:10 Antonio and Elizabeth each get a couple minutes to thank colleagues and mentors for their help in learning what they needed to pass the exams.
3:16 You announce there’s cake and ice cream and invite all to get some
3:35 You start cleaning up so people realize it’s time to go back to work.
In just over a half-hour, you’ve
- helped Antonio and Elizabeth feel recognized for their hard work
- made your boss look good by putting on the event
- helped your peers realize your company rewards accomplishments
- gotten everyone a break in the middle of the afternoon
This is a type of meeting you can take on even if you’re not the boss. When I worked at the US Government Accountability Office, I was not an auditor or evaluator, like 90% of the staff. But this type of event allowed me to show leadership among my peers and with my bosses. Go for it!
From the time you become a supervisor, you will need to have this type of meeting with your staff, even if that’s only one person. Often the purpose for this type of meeting is to compare notes, for staff to ask for help, and for you to give feedback. I highly encourage you to make these meetings a priority and schedule them regularly.
And from the web . . .
Now for those great articles I promised.
From the brilliant people (and friends) at Herrmann International, owner of the HBDI thinking styles assessment.
Request this report and you will get checklists and tons of great advice for putting on meetings that are successful and help you look good.
The HBDI is a great tool for understanding how we think differently. For example, different people need different things.
D: Why: Give context for the meeting
B: How: Provide an agenda
A: What: Dive into the content
C: Who: Look out for frustrations; facilitate interaction
Feeling a bit confused by what that means? Click on this link to get a fantastic free package that tells you how to have effective meetings and explains the ABCs.
Great advice and great art
This recent piece from the New York Times is full of wisdom and great advice. It’s displayed well and will keep your attention. Take notes and be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom.
Shorter and cooler
If you’re looking for something shorter than the first two, check out this piece from the folks at CoSchedule.com. They have their own language and styles of meetings that may feel more natural to you—i.e., not the old-fart way.
And from Harvard . . .
Harvard Business Review has tons of top-quality content on all things business. Check out this article on how to have a meeting that people actually want to attend.
On herding cats and more
MindTools is another great resource for you to learn what you need to grow in your career. Check out their post and Twitter conversation on herding cats and taming alligators.
Don’t do this
And last but not least is this article about how NOT to lead a meeting. When I think of the time I’ve lost to meetings like this. . . learn, please.
Have fun. Keep learning. Being able to conduct a good meeting is a skill you want to develop.
© Pamela A. Scott, MentorLoft.com, 2017