The Dreaded Office Meeting

I don’t know about you, but I hate meetings. Why? Because one of four things tends to happen:
People just sit and stare at each other, at their hands, or their papers, not saying anything. They think it is safer to stay silent because they don’t want to appear unintelligent or unprepared in front of others. This leads to little to no discussion. Or…
Everyone talks at the same time; they argue, interrupt, and talk over each other. No one ends up listening to each other. By the time the meeting is over, nothing has been accomplished, and people may even have enemies on their hands. Or…
The meeting was called for a specific reason, but it goes off track and ends up following multiple tangents, with no decisions made and no one remembering why they gathered in the first place. Or…
A discussion ensues among just a few people about a topic that only they can address; the rest of the group is forced to sit and listen to their conversation, without being able to participate and contribute.
Not very many meetings are planned well. Consequently, many meetings are meaningless, get no results, become unpopular, and ultimately see their attendance numbers decline over time. But companies can’t just scrap group meetings altogether, so people must find better ways of planning and communicating!
As you get ready to start a new year in 2017, take a few moments to focus on how to run a successful meeting.
1. Get ready.
Define clearly what you are trying to accomplish through a meeting. If there is no specific purpose, DO NOT hold it.
Plan what will be discussed.
Determine the materials you need–samples, models, charts, reports, etc.–and make sure they are ready to go. Recently, I sat on a panel that was considering funding a startup company seeking support for a desktop-publishing venture. However, the presenter didn’t have samples, and when asked an important question, he was unable to find the information on his computer. (That meeting did not go well!)
Locate a suitable place to meet with a room large enough to accommodate the group. Make sure the space is well lit and ventilated and that you won’t be interrupted or disturbed by noise.
Invite only the people who need to be there.
Set the length of the meeting; don’t make it any longer than necessary. Is the topic worth the collective time that will be spent on it?
Share the agenda with the group in advance. If there will be a significant gap between the date you announce the meeting and when it will take place, make a reminder call a few days beforehand.
Test your equipment! There can sometimes be technical glitches anyway, but show up with enough time to ensure everything works before the meeting starts.
2. Open the meeting.
Start on time! If you wait for stragglers, you are penalizing those who arrive on time.
State clearly what you want to accomplish at the beginning of the meeting. That will help ensure people with other agendas won’t derail the meeting. For a tacit reminder of the reason you are all there, write the objective on the whiteboard or tape it to the wall on a large piece of paper.
Find out from the group members what they already know about the subject, and then you can start to fill in the blanks from there.
3. Guide the discussion.
Try this: As a questioning technique, use a direct approach; speak to an individual, not the group in general. Don’t say the person’s name at the beginning of the question; instead, tag it on at the end. That way, you keep all the members of the group engaged. For those reluctant to answer, you can use “leading” questions–direct a question with an obvious answer to a specific person.
Find out what factors might be interfering with the success of your objective. You want to be able to guide the discussion toward concrete evidence and specific factors you can do something about.
Start to discuss potential solutions to issues.
Keep the discussion on topic.
Watch your schedule, so you can close on time.
4. Close the meeting.
Ensure there is a common understanding about who is going to do what, and when.
Distribute your Action List to all group members.
If you apply these above principles outlined in the four-step process, your meetings will be much more productive and informative.
People will be glad they came!
As always, we are here to help you on your journey in any way we can.
If you have any questions, feel free to reply on this email, or give us a call at 604-852-0566.
Talk soon,
Ken Keis CRG, Consulting Resource Group International, Inc.


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