Lead Your Life

Awake, Aligned, and Grounded In Truth

How Facilitators Kill Meetings June 27, 2011

How many of the meetings you’ve attended in the last 14 days have been 1) high output, 2) on task, 3) optimistic & innovative, & 4) totally energizing? We’re talking mind expanding, big results, & lots of fun.  Yes, Fun.  Probably not many. 

And yet, “meetings” exist to create something better through the creative collaboration of success-aligned people who each bring something unique to the table. 

What happens?

Typically, the meeting organizer fails to set expectations.  We’ve all had the experience where we find ourselves stopping important work to attend a meeting for which there is no agenda.  Or, the agenda is so loose, it’s not clear what the desired outcome is.  We show up, and the first 10 minutes are spent waiting for the chronically tardy while small talking about America’s Got Talent.  All the while, our frustration is soaring & our minds have run adrift. 

So, here are some fundamentals to implement throughout your org.

1) No Pre Defined Agenda & Outcomes – No Meeting.

2) Meetings scheduled for the right amount of time based on the complexity & importance of the outcomes.  If you need 15 minutes, schedule 15 minutes – not 30.  People have a bad habit of arbitrarily blocking 60 minutes because this is the Microsoft Outlook Default.  Be Respectful Of Other’s Time. 

3) Every meeting starts with a clarification of the desired outcomes & a validation that the right people & data are present.  If the answer to either is NO, meeting is rescheduled. 

4) Every meeting ends with a wrap up that identifies 1) decision points, 2) action items with dates & assignments, 3) outstanding questions that are either going to a parking lot or have been assigned for follow-up.  4) Next Steps.

5) Meeting Minutes Are Mandatory, and unless confidential, sharable.

6) Start on time & end on time.  No exceptions.

7) The facilitator’s energy, tone, & desire matter.  Train your facilitators to host awesome meetings that inspire & engage.

Here’s a biggie.  Adopting a set of ground rules is a powerful way to transform meetings.  They should map to your culture, values, and goals.  Here are some that we use that are particularly valuable. 

1) Presence – Be Here & Nowhere Else.

2) Trust Your Gifts – Trust that you have tremendous value to offer.

3) Take Risks – The risk is not in sharing yourself but in withholding yourself.

4) Curiosity – “Quality questions create a quality life.  Successful people ask better questions & as a result, get better answers.”  (Tony Robbins)

5) Be the Student – Learn, Study, Challenge.  Nothing coalesces thought like writing it down.

6) Authenticity – Be YOU – out loud with confidence.  Embrace your awesomeness.

7) Chill in the Discomfort – Growth requires discomfort – embrace it. 

8) Use discernment – not judgment.  No rights & wrongs… Just the paving of the most amazing available path.

9) Jam Out – Control Your State.  Stay optimistic, engaged, & energized.

10) Listen – Honor the wisdom of others.  Allow everyone’s gift & perspective to embed in the solution.

11) Embrace Possibility – In every challenge is an opportunity.  “Dwell in Possibility.”  Emily Dickenson.

Almost all businesses depend on meetings (aka: collaboration) to achieve success, and every single one should be high impact, meaningful, and aligned with the vision.  Creating powerful meetings takes discipline, and the return is well worth the process.  What ideas can you share about facilitating powerful meetings?


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