Meeting Madness

I’ve spent almost a quarter of my waking business life in meetings. If you are doing business in corporate America, I’d bet that you are being “meetinged to death,” too. Meetings aren’t bad, though. They are somewhat necessary.

However, bad meetings aren’t necessary at all. Ever been to a meeting where the facilitator didn’t know what he/she wanted to accomplish? “Yes!” I understand. Here are some helpful tips to help you and your facilitator get out of the meeting in one piece – without breaking any politically correct business rules.

Request parameters. Use this technique if the meeting leader hasn’t articulated a goal of the meeting or if it’s assumed that all in attendance know the goal. Say something like, “I think we are all interested in making this a very productive meeting. Could we take a minute and identify what we would like to accomplish and how we are going to use our meeting time to do that?”

Ask Questions. Questions are helpful when you think a point has been missed or when a person’s good idea didn’t make it down on paper. You might say something like, “That’s interesting, Bob. Do you mind telling us a little bit more about your idea?” Or, you might say, “So, by awesome service delivery, what do you mean?”

Recap Points. It’s easier to intermittently rephrase certain ideas and ensure they are being considered rather than waiting until the end of the meeting. Do it while your thoughts on the subject are fresh. Say something like, “I need to make sure I understand the last three ideas that Joe, Bob and Sally expressed.”

Propose. When it seems that the group is in gridlock on opposing issues, try proposing a suggestion that is linked to the goal of the meeting. For example, “I think we are looking at two different issues here. The goal of our meeting was to tackle issue one, so let’s keep our eye on that issue and come back to the other one. How does that sound?”

Be Prepared. Show up to the meeting on time with your thoughts focused on the subject. Come with an open mind so you can hear others’ ideas. Take a few minutes to unwind, if that helps. Being in the right frame of mind will enable you to use these tips to help facilitate the meeting if needed.

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