5 Ways to keep your meeting from crashing and burning

Have you ever been in a meeting wondering why you are there or if it will ever end? I know I have. Shamefully, I've led a meeting or two (or thirty) where I could see my team was asking the same thing. Great meetings happen because of great preparation. I say this because every meeting has to have a direction. Without direction a meeting will always fall victim to what I call, "Right turn guy/gal." Right turn guy/gal, we can refer to him/her as RTG, is master of the tangent thought. Every team has RTG. RTG has a great heart but an unfocused mind and they can influence a meeting in a direction that doesn't accomplish anything.

But are you RTG? Do you cause the meeting to crash? If you've been feeling like your meetings often crash, burn, and derail your teams momentum let me give you a couple of thoughts.

1. Have an agenda - I know the word agenda makes you think, "Big Boy Pants," but you have to use it. I feel like RTG is subdued from jumping to another topic if they can see it will be discussed later in the meeting.

2. Have a balance - When I plan a meeting for our leadership team I think thirds. One third of the meeting will be building our community. One third will be a time for me to do some coaching or give input. And the last third of the meeting is going to be a planning time. I don't have those in any particular order but I think they are valuable pieces to a great meeting.

3. Use a template - Once you have discovered a template for a meeting that works stick with it. I find that people engage more in a meeting when they know what's coming.

4. Leave people wanting more - Long meeting is code for, "Shoot me." Short meeting is code for, "Why did we do this?" A balanced, well run meeting that operates on a time limit will make people feel involved, informed, and considered. But don't be afraid to leave people wanting more, which leads me to my next point...

5. Have a hard time - No, I don't mean struggle through your meeting. I mean have a time that you will not pass. Even if you have more to cover shut the meeting down. When you honor the time of your people you demonstrate that you honor what else they have going on in their life. In other words, you appear human.

What else do you think helps a leader run a more effective meeting? Please comment below!

Lead a meeting like you've always wanted

Team meetings are like a rudder on a boat, they may appear small but they can steer massive change in your team or organization.

Photo credit to Campaign Monitor

You know when you've been in a unproductive meeting. It's painful. However, I hope you've been in a meeting that you walked away encouraged and aware of what your next steps were. The later meeting builds momentum, the other sucks the very life out of you and your team.

Here is how you have great meetings:

1. Make it personal - We can never assume that every person at the meeting knows everything about everyone. Bill Hybels writes about the Hot Seat in his book Courageous Leadership. The "hot seat" is when you choose one person a meeting and ask them questions about themselves. Questions like, "If you could have a dream home anywhere in the world, where would you?" Remember, people are at the table, not robots. They have dreams, goals, and gifts; do you know what they are?

2. Get reporting out of the way - Many times reporting is unecessary in meetings. If there is a common means of communication like email or a Facebook message put the reporting there, hit the majors in the meeting as briefly as possible, and then ask if anyone saw something they had questions about.

3. Strike'em emotionally - If you fail at this you will probably fail in the meeting. People want to be engaged and excited but you have to draw it out. Ask them to dream. Ask them if something has happened that demonstrates the power of why you do what you do. Ask them how their lives are changing by being involved. These kinds of questions are like turning the key on your car's ignition, now you can go somewhere.

4. Turn it over - People are longing for the opportunity to speak into something. Input begets ownership. If the group is five or less you can help them brainstorm solutions. If the group is larger than five, break the group up. Have the smaller groups brainstorm and then present to the other group about their solutions. As the leader look for those who aren't participating or might be shy and ask for their input!

5. Illicit action - Brainstorming is great but worthless without follow up action. You can lead a great meeting but nothing will deflate the emotional high of the group if they don't know where to go to put their solutions to work. Have each group do a "now what?". Your team has great ideas, having them write them down allows you as the leader to follow up with direct action instead of vague reminders!

Every leader should know how to lead great meetings so they can harvest the combined energy of their people. Lose at meetings, lose momentum, lose people; it's that simple.

What helps you lead effective meetings? Please leave a comment below about what you have learned or experienced in meetings.

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