Blog by Tracy Butz, CSP
Why do some meeting facilitators excel at leading and managing meetings while others fail to maintain control, keep emotions in line, and can't seem to enrich the experience so attendees are engaged and want to contribute?
If you struggle with this skill or know someone who does, don't sit back and wait for the next meeting you lead or attend to be one of the 49 percent of office meetings that are found to be a "waste of time" (source: USA Today). Moreover, according to an online schedule service named Doodle, their recently published 2019 State of Meetings Report found that pointless and/or poorly organized meetings will cost U.S. companies a whopping $399 billion in 2019! Both alarming and sad.
Let's consider some of the consequences for employees who suffer through poorly organized or facilitated meetings. According to the same report, respondents most often cited:
- Poorly organized meetings mean I don't have enough time to do the rest of my work (44%).
- Unclear actions lead to confusion (43%).
- Bad organization results in a loss of focus on projects (38%).
- Irrelevant attendees slow progress (31%).
- Inefficient processes weaken customer/supplier relationships (26%).
So before you reserve your next meeting space, take a few moments to consider why you need to gather this group together at this particular time, who should be invited and who needs to be present, what outcomes you expect as a result of the meeting, and what impact you hope to have. Additionally, apply these 12 methods, too, and watch your meetings become more productive, easier to manage, and more meaningful for all involved.
- Communicate the agenda and the meeting purpose with the meeting invitation.
- Leave devices at the door (or at least put them on silence).
- Set meeting expectations, including the length of each agenda item and overall meeting length.
- Avoid recapping for late-comers.
- Explain how ideas will be captured.
- Listen more, talk less, and welcome all ideas--not just those from "louder" attendees and/or extroverts.
- Communicate the desired meeting outcome beforehand and at the start of the meeting to ensure attendees have clarity in the goal and come prepared to articulate their points.
- One person speaks at a time without interruption.
- Welcome respectful disagreement/conflict; don't allow disrespectful comments/tones.
- Set up the meeting room/environment and test all technology before the meeting starts.
- Jokes need to be appropriate or stopped.
- Identify who the note-taker will be and ensure s/he understands the facilitator's expectations (capture all ideas and avoid using symbols for words).
Below is a comical illustration of the above points NOT being demonstrated well. Enjoy it and let yourself laugh a little. After all, according to Fortune.com, laughter is good for the bottom line---with 81 percent of the 100 Best Companies to Work For saying, "We work in a fun environment."