How to Lead Incredible Meetings.

Yesterday I wrote a post sarcastically airing my frustrations about terrible meetings.  It wasn’t directed at anyone unless you were offended by it: in which case it was probably directed at you.  🙂  Anyways, I don’t like to end on negative notes: it really came out of a heart to challenge and lead well!  So, in light of yesterday’s post, I decided to write a follow up.  Here’s a couple ways to make your meetings (whether you work at Starbucks or the Pentagon) energizing and exceptional:

Start with”why.”  Nothing is more draining than when people start meetings with nuts-and-bolts.  Open your meeting by celebrating the reason for the meeting: the overall vision of ‘why we’re here’ in the first place. Maybe that means telling a story.  Maybe that means letting one of your teammates share something. Maybe that means celebrating one of the values of your organization.  Maybe it simply means being clear about the reason for the meeting in the first place: “the goal of this meeting is to decide … to generate ideas … to communicate … etc.”  The “why” is what fuels that details. The “why” is what motivates people and keeps them coming back.  Always start with why.


Stick to the agenda and avoid tangents.  Wait!  You don’t have an agenda?  Make sure you do, and make sure you write it down.  You may be the type of leader that loves tangents, but I can almost guarantee you not everyone on your team does.  Some people (maybe even most people) it drives crazy.  People don’t want to get sucked into mind-numbing meetings that don’t accomplish anything, and if you start talking about things unrelated to the goal of the meeting, you will waste people’s time.  Focus!  As the leader you set the pace: you make the call as to when the conversation is getting off-topic.  If something has been talked into the ground, move on!

Invite the input of quiet people.  They’re usually smarter anyway. 🙂

Assign tasks to specific people.  “Can you take responsibility for that?”  “How about you own that?”  “Can you take care of that and report back to me in a week?”  This ensures that things get done, when people are responsible for them.  Don’t ever assume that everyone is just going to randomly own whatever tasks you talk about.  Delegate them to specific folks.

Talk only about things that relate to the entire team.  Don’t have one-on-one meetings with people in front of the rest of the team during the team meeting.  If you get into a nuts-and-bolts discussion with one person about things that probably just need to be talked about between you and them, everyone else will check out.

Clarify the win.  What is ‘success’ for your team?  What is a ‘win’ for your team and the people on it?  Clarify that at the end of every meeting.

Email everyone a summary of the meeting.  Make sure to include the specific decisions that were made and the tasks that were assigned to everyone.  That way you have a documented standard by which to hold people accountable.

And last but not by any means least, KEEP ALL YOUR MEETINGS SHORT.  Maybe I got a little dramatic on the all-caps, but nothing is more refreshing than short, pointed, purposeful meetings.  Meetings have the power to transform the culture of your organization, but they also have the power to kill momentum more than anything else. If you can learn the art of the short but purposeful meeting, your meetings will be transformed from drudgerous, boring, dreaded and wasted to passionate, clear, energizing, and inspiring, and your team will start to look forward to all of them…

What about you?  What would you add to the list?

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