I feel like I must confess something to you, my faithful audience.
The other evening I was on a conference call with some other leadership consultants to coordinate our efforts on an upcoming project.
At one point during the call, my phone pinged. Naturally, I looked.
It was a family group text from my newlywed son who was updating us on his first week with his new wife Tyler . . . and her tiny lapdog named Charlie.
That was funny, I thought as I formed my own witty response to ping back. What wasn't funny is that subconsciously I noticed that the people on the other end of the conference call went silent.
They were waiting for me to answer the question they just asked.
I had just broken a cardinal rule about hosting a good meeting. No phones or devices to distract.
There are actually SEVEN rules to host a good meeting (which I have listed below with hyperlinks to explain), but the one I want you to focus on is #7. In my opinion, it is BY FAR the one simple change you can make to decrease meeting time and make them more effective for all involved.
(1) Obviously, no devices or phones.
(2) Keep the number of attendees under 7.
(3) Keep any meeting < 60 Minutes.
(4) Involve everyone . . . even if you have to call on them.
(5) The objective of a meeting is to improve a team; never just "to inform."
(6) Stand up (weird, I know, but it can cut meeting time by 34%)
(7) Use this agenda, and send ahead of time.
Click on#7's hyperlink above to access a full template of the agenda with additional details. If you would rather have a summary, here's what you need to know.
(1) Frame every agenda item as if you are answering a question.
WHY? Answering a question puts a finite point to any discussion. Keeps the main thing, the main thing. And once you achieve the answer, you're done. Move on! Keeps the momentum going.
(2) Assign an individual to be accountable for each agenda item.
WHY? Having a point person directs the discussion through an informed individual rather than just throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks.
(3) Assign a specific time frame for resolution.
WHY? This is the number one reason why people hate meetings in the first place . . . wasting time!
(4) Decide whether the agenda item is to:
- collect important information
- give input on a decision
- actually make the decision
WHY? Second emphasis to focus conversation toward the desired outcome. Prevents tangents.
So I encouraged Britton to have a meeting with his new bride with one agenda item only. And to frame it in the form of a question.
Here's what he came up with:
Family Meeting--January 10,
Agenda Item #1--What are we going to do to keep Charlie from peeing in my shoes?
Time Frame: 5 minutes
Person Responsible: Tyler
Reason: Give input on a decision
Britton sent back this response.
Oh well, glad we got that settled.
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