Making meetings much more dynamic – Part 2 of 3
You recently read (in Part 1) about three recommendations to prepare for meetings that will transform the value of meetings. They were: 1) Develop a clear, tangible objective to be accomplished; 2) Be sure that a meeting is the best way to achieve your objective; and 3) Start the meeting when it’s time (that doesn’t always mean “on time”).
These set the stage for a great meeting before it even begins. Here are four more recommendations for during the meeting that will help you get the most value from the meeting.
Recommendation #4: Open the meeting with clarity and focus
The tone of the meeting can and should be set in the first two minutes. Part 1 discussed the definition of a clear, tangible objective to provide the contextual structure you need. This objective should be stated at the outset of the meeting, with a polite yet definitive reminder that any straying from the purpose of the meeting (no matter how valid) threatens to interfere with staying on time and on task and is therefore not welcome.
The meeting should start with the PAPA Principle (Positive, Assertive, Professional….Always!) to set the tone for the entire meeting. Whenever possible, the meeting objective or purpose should be in view (perhaps on a whiteboard or wall, or via quick access to a slide). People may initially be startled by this approach but will appreciate the improved focus.
Recommendation #5: Follow the agenda
It is important that you take the time to prepare (and distribute beforehand) an agenda that is consistent with achieving the purpose of the meeting. And follow it! Far too often an agenda is prepared, a tone is set, yet people are allowed to talk and talk with discussion not focused on the meeting’s purpose.
The creation of a strong agenda (based on the meeting objectives) provides the contextual structure you need and can act as a guide and timesheet. The agenda should have timings right on it, so that the leader can feel and share the sense of urgency that is far too often absent from meetings. It ensures that each topic gets it fair share of time (how many meetings have you been to where the last several items don’t even get brought up because time is up?). A solid agenda is a key ingredient for a successful meeting.
Recommendation #6: When (not if) the meeting begins to stray, bring it back
Despite the planning, the great agenda, and the tone that has been set, conversations always have the potential to digress down unproductive paths. The leader has two choices. The first is to let it develop into tangents that may be valid, and may even be interesting, but stray and steal away from the meeting purpose. If the leader lets this take place because “interrupting is rude”, or “the discussion got people involved” (or something along those lines), then the meeting will be derailed and the purpose will suffer.
If the leader chooses the second option, which is to politely yet assertively halt the meeting and remind people of the purpose and how the discussion needs to get back to it, the likelihood of a successful meeting increases dramatically. This might be uncomfortable at first, but unless and until it becomes commonplace, meetings will not reach complete success.
Recommendation #7: Allow (even encourage) constructive disagreement
Too many meeting leaders associate impassioned disagreement with negative conflict. It doesn’t need to be that way! There are always multiple perspectives on a given topic, and unless they are all raised, decisions are likely being made in the absence of critical information.
The meeting leader should allow, even encourage, debates that delve further into the key aspects of a particular topic. Perhaps participants might even be polled as to their position on something, with a discussion of all the pros and cons for a position encouraged and documented. In constructive disagreement, it is important that professionalism and respect be shown at all times. The leader must remember that all conflict is not negative, and the right amount can actually feed into the success of meetings.
Coming very soon are the final three suggestions to get the most out of meetings. They involve tactics to employ both during and after meetings. Meetings can be very productive and rewarding. Following these recommendations is a major step in the right direction!
Feel free to contact us with any questions at cscholey @ outlook.com or 416.209.0704.
Cam Scholey, MBA, Ph.D., CPA, FCPA, FCMA (Principal Advisor at Best in Scho, Toronto) trains and develops people to build and then effectively use tools for superior performance management. He has written several management accounting guidelines (MAGs) and articles on strategy mapping and balanced scorecard. His first book, A Practical Guide to the Balanced Scorecard was published in 2002 (CCH Canadian).
Cam creates and custom designs strategy maps and balanced scorecards for organizations in both the profit and not-for-profit sector. He is endorsed by several CPAs of Ontario in Strategic Planning, Financial Analysis, Budgets, Research and other business disciplines. He is also a19-year university instructor (in-class and online – primary courses: financial accounting; management accounting; management controls; finance). He is best suited to get on track, or develop from scratch your PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT. Get in touch now at 123-123-1234 (WhatsApp, text or call)