Three Tweaks for a Meeting Makeover
March 14, 2011
by Guest Blogger AmyK Hutchens
You walk into your office thinking about the incredible day ahead filled with productivity and possibilities. Then you sit down, open up your daily planner and sigh. All hopes of productivity vanish. Your day is filled with meetings. You sigh louder and wonder if you should have asked for the Venti size jolt of caffeine. Only one of these meetings is going to be any fun, the rest - drudgery. Why? Because they're updates, boring recitations of the status of everyone's various projects and milestones. Where are you with the Miller design? What’s the status of the rebuild? Where are we in our sales pipeline? Blah, blah, blah. But there, at 3 pm shines a beacon of intelligent and creative possibilities. Your colleague Margo has called a meeting with the following question: How do we, Company XYZ, define our ideal client?
Margo is in charge of new business development and she has asked every department manager to step into the production room for a 23-minute meeting. Who sets a 23-minute meeting?, you ask yourself, glad to know that it'll be short and hopefully succinct, all the while wondering who in fact is your ideal client. You ruminate about your book of business, recalling good clients, bad clients, quirky clients, and as you think about your customer base you start to get thoughtful about some of the trends and patterns you see. The last few clients you've retained are not actually all that ideal, and this starts you thinking…darn, it's time to head down to the conference room to hear that first report update.
3 Easy Tips to Makeover Your Meetings:
1. Create an Agenda Based On Questions
Our brains trigger on questions. We're naturally curious. Instead of sending out an agenda about how sales are down and how everybody needs to share best practices, think about asking questions to which people will want to know the answers. Questions like the ideal client above and, "What's the secret in our secret sauce? or What's one thing you could do in the next 90 days to move all of your B Clients to B+ Clients? Even when you do have critical updates to share, replace the Agenda statement, Share Update Reports, with a question: What’s the most significant development in your department in the last 30 days?
2. Send out Your Agenda at Least 24 Hours in Advance
Want to increase engagement and accountability (http://www.ignitebrilliance.com/)? First, have everyone send out their one-page report highlights a day or two in advance and then pose the question: “What three bullet points on John’s (or Sarah's or Frank's) report are going to have the biggest influence or impact on you in the next 90 days?” This question evokes a high-level conversation with specific outcomes and active listening by everyone in the room. Each person will be attuned to the fact that he/she will have to interpret, analyze, and predict what's going to happen with the information they provided and reviewed.
These two steps, having reports prepared and distributed in advance and asking critical thinking questions, will do much to increase the level of engagement, accountability and the quality of the discussion. Start the meeting before “the meeting”. No need to waste 20 minutes while everyone's brains warm up. When you send out the questions ahead of time, people start to think about the answers. By the time the meeting starts, their ideas and their brains are warm…perhaps even fresh!
3. Shake ‘em Up
Length – Participants – Venue – Perspective. Shake ‘em up and wake 'em up! The brain craves variety. Variety fosters creativity. Creativity leads to innovation. Innovation beats your competitors.
It doesn’t take more committees with more meetings or a huge strategic initiative to get richer dialogue, more creative ideas and more ideal decisions. It takes a few thoughtful tweaks to improve the level of engagement and depth of dialogue. Isn't it time your meetings got a makeover?
AmyK Hutchens, Founder and Intelligence Activist, AmyK Inc., is a speaker, trainer and business strategist. She is best known for helping business leaders capitalize on how the brain and human perception filters work to help them be more effective in business and their personal lives. Follow AmyK on Twitter @AmyKinc or visit at http://www.amyk.com .
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