Meetings, when properly directed, are a great way to get everyone on the same page, strategize, and brainstorm with the aim of moving the company in the right direction. If a meeting lacks the necessary focus, however, it can represent a colossal time-suck and a waste of everybody’s resources. It’s essential to have a clear picture of why a meeting is necessary and what needs to be accomplished. Below are a few “don’ts” and “dos” when it comes to taking the lead and conducting a great meeting.
DON’T conduct meetings every week for the sake of conducting a meeting – it can lead to so many annoying little problems like the anticipation of the dreaded weekly meeting, the didn’t-we-just-discuss-this-last-week feeling, or the incessant mulling over minutia. Not every decision in a company should be left to a democracy and it’s really only beneficial to call a meeting when one is deemed truly necessary.
DO include everyone - if you’ve decided that now is the time to have a meeting it should be because some kind of shift in direction is necessary. Sea changes can implicate the whole company and you might be surprised by who has big ideas. If wholesale changes are necessary, and you limit your company’s rebranding to the marketing team because you see it exclusively as a marketing issue, you’re effectively limiting your options moving forward.
DON’T make your meetings about one-on-ones – a meeting where everyone is gathered waiting for their turn to speak and explain what they do is likely to cause attendees to zone out. The key to a great meeting, and getting great ideas out, is to keep everyone engaged. Set aside time to have one-on-ones so that everyone can communicate what’s relevant about their particular position and then connect them with whoever they might need in other departments. Remember, meetings are about the big picture, not the details.
DO have a clear idea of what needs to be accomplished – a meeting’s focus can be lost so easily by getting bogged down in details. It’s imperative that, when leading a team meeting, you know exactly where your team is at and where they should be by the end. It’s possible to know the answers without having the means to articulate it, so clueing in to what’s being shared in a meeting should be what allows you to formulate an expression of what you know is already there.
DON’T get sidetracked by things that are irrelevant – although it’s important to keep things lighthearted and fun, maintaining control over the direction of the meeting is essential to make progress. Meetings can suffer from too many questions or too much fine-tuning. Ideas discussed at meetings should be global, not particular. It’s important not to just gloss over the details, but keep in mind that the grandeur of an issue should reflect the size and duration of a meeting.
DO allow everyone a chance to shine - although you’re in control and you make the decisions, a meeting can never be about you. You can communicate company values in an email, but you get feedback in a meeting. Having an open mind, ceding the floor and jumping in only to direct traffic, should be the leader’s role in any meeting.
Meetings aren’t the kind of thing you want built into the framework of your company but it’s important to have systems in place that keep you in contact with the various branches of your business. A constant stream of meetings can devalue their importance and, as a team leader, it’s important to distinguish between when everyone needs to be brought together and when it’s time to meet one-on-one. Meetings represent an opportunity to shake things up, keep everyone on their toes, and pull them out of the doldrums of the regular routine. Suddenly throwing everyone into a collaborative environment of equals often has an effect of stimulating out-of-the-box thinking and it can be surprising where the next great idea can come from.