Your Meetings Don’t Have to Suck

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To design and deliver a winning presentation, as noted in countless, requires a focus on content (what you say) and format/style (how you organize the material and personally deliver it). Guiding your decisions on these matters, requires adherence to the ADAP principle: it can’t be a data-dump; Presentations must be Audience-Driven (deliver what they need to know and do so in a format/style that generates high receptivity to absorbing the message and then passing on to other members of the audience team so they can help make the final decision.

Every new year, re-starts the cycle of weekly, monthly, quarterly meetings to review status and make actionable decisions. While we all want effective, efficient and impactful meetings, that’s not the experience most of us have. Most meetings are poorly run – which is why most of us want fewer and faster meetings. After reading Cameron Herold’s Meetings SUCK, I realized that this is a context in which you can apply presentation related-skills and make a difference in your life and the lives of your colleagues!

As with every presentation, the goal is to provide a high ROI. The reason this is valuable to you and your colleagues is because time is money. For instance, a semi-monthly meeting of 10 people who earn $50/hour X 24 meetings a year = $12000. Time wasted generates negative emotions, which has damaging ripple effects. Saving time, money and generating positive experiences is the reward. Are you willing to change?

Cameron notes that there are five key concepts that can be addressed in different ways:

  1. Planning: Build and distribute agendas in advance, and keep to them. If there are no unexpected changes in status, and /or decisions needing to be made, meetings can be shortened or even skipped. Each agenda item states the decision to be made and projects the time allotted for discussion and reaching decisions.
  2. Meeting types: routine meetings can be for status (tactical) review or (strategic) decision-making
  3. Meeting processes: Commitments to efficiency (e.g., starting on time, compressing time), effectiveness (focus on the purpose: what will we achieve – what decisions are needed now), and holding people accountable for commitments, so the team can move on to the next items. Rather than seeing each meeting as the end-game; it’s simply a marker along the 52-week marathon – since work with deadlines takes place between meetings including prep-planning and decision-execution. Use the “flip the classroom” approach: absorbing the report, spreadsheet and videos takes place before the meeting; the meeting is to get clarification on issues, discuss them and reach decisions.
  4. Foster Useful Communication: facilitating conversations so priority issues are addressed first, and encourage all people to provide input and feedback, not just extroverts.
  5. Assign roles to participants, including:
  • Agenda-setter who collects issues and decisions that need to be reached at the meeting; also assigns time limits and distributes agendas and advance preparation work so everyone has read the PPT/document and uses the meeting to discuss issues and make decisions.
  • Timekeeper to keep the meeting on schedule, 
  • Facilitator to make sure everyone participates and shares views;
  • Parking lot person – collects the tangential issues for later discussions.

The benefits of this approach are that:

  • Your team comes to the meeting PREPARED for decision-making
  • Introverts are supported because they know the goal and can collect their thoughts in advance
  • Depending on the decision that needs to be reached, non-essential people can opt-out
  • Time is maximized!

Finally, here’s a sample agenda with 4 main categories:

  • Identity: Name of meeting, date, who is attending/role, starting time and finishing time
  • Purpose of meeting; (e.g., Strategic planning on the sales plan will be finalized)
  • Outcomes:
    • Identify the top 3 sales strategies that are going to be used
    • Identify the expected monthly ramp-up goals for each person will
    • Identify the expected company-wide quarterly results for each month
    • Schedule for semi-monthly 10 minute review sessions to catch things needing adjustment 
  • Agenda: 
    • 20 minutes – Discuss and decide on the 3 sales strategies
    • 20 minutes – Discuss and decide monthly ramp-up goals for each person will
    • 10 minutes – Finalize company-wide quarterly results for each month
    • 10 minutes – Finalize on semi-monthly 10 minute review sessions format

I hope this will help you launch more productive and impactful meetings, save time and money, and create a stronger culture of collaboration and teamwork.  Wishing you a terrific and super-successful 2024!