The Process of Extracting Results in a Business Meeting

Meeting Preparation is serious business. 

Throughout your leadership career, you will be a meeting attendee and host thousands of hours in the meeting room. THOUSANDS! Let’s do some basic math. If you work an average of 40 hours per week for a year, it comes to a total of 2,080 hours. Now, let’s say you work for 30 years. That number comes to 62,400 hours, aka, your career. 

If you spend 1/3 of those 62,400 hours in “meetings,” that’s a total of 20,800 hours, which is equal to 10 YEARS in actual meeting hours. 10 YEARS, sitting, listening, or speaking, in meetings. UGH! So, it’s incredibly important that if you are an attendee, or most importantly, from a leadership perspective, as a meeting facilitator, responsible for organizing the team meeting. You use meeting preparation tools and advice to make the most of your time and the time of those around you.

Strategic planning your meeting preparation. 

Over the years, Dr. Scott Vinciguerra uncovered seven tried-and-true strategies for making meeting preparation better. Above all, these strategies make the next meeting you host productive but also engaging and accountable. He built a strategy designed to get the desired outcome. Meetings don’t have to suck. Often, with proper preparation training, they are reflective, actionable, innovative, and creative, NOT dull, boring, useless, or draining. A good meeting has a purpose and is used to solve problems. Also, they need critical thinking to build your team and address challenges.

Battle the useless meeting agenda.

The battle that most folks in the leadership role fight is the urge to have a meeting for the sake of having a meeting. Here’s what generally happens: The meeting facilitator decides to get everyone together to tell them something “important.” An email goes out with the date, time, and location. Along with a quick blurb about what’s the topic: that’s it.

Immediately, speculation rises, eyeballs roll, chins go down, and frustration rockets. The conference gets added to your meeting time planner, in black, like you’re already mourning a death. You create mental pictures in your head of how the previous meeting went, and how this current meeting will look and feel. Deep down, you’re telling yourself, “I’ll never get that hour back!” There are meetings where nothing gets resolved, with no decisions made, and no accountability delivered. 

Changing the boring meeting to a productive meeting. 

So, how do you change that mindset of the attendee? It starts with you. You are the meeting LEADER. Whatever rules you had for holding meetings, henceforth throw them out! Unproductive meetings are dull and uninspiring, besides breeds lousy decisions and a stale atmosphere. It’s time to get creative. As a meeting organizer, bring a sense of purpose to your day and likewise others’ days too. Ignite enthusiasm for regular meetings! Encourage attendees to have ideas and participate in the topic of conversation. After all, you’re likely going to spend 1/3 of your career in the conference room. Business meetings should have some ‘teeth.’ It helps when you spent time thinking through how you’ll execute the discussion of meeting material. In short, successful meeting results depend on your meeting preparation.

7 Rules of meeting preparation and a few quick tips:

1. Have an Agenda (and bring food when you can)

Team leaders are responsible for providing direction and vision. If a meeting agenda isn’t part of your existing protocols, add it to your practices. Think through the various parts of the preparation checklist, and become like a surgeon in an operating room. Dissect the multiple components of the meeting objective. To increase seamlessness, determine the priorities and order of what has to be covered. Whenever possible, have something healthy to snack on. Food is a great motivator.

2. Assign Accountability as a Goal

Throughout your career, you will have to delegate specific responsibilities and tasks to your team and colleagues. By assigning accountability to the task, you are creating a platform for expectations and progress. Of the many frustrating components of attending a formal meeting that is poorly run is not assigning accountability, which creates a level of ambiguity, confusion, and speculation. Eliminate those three confusing elements and assign task accountability to your business team.

 3. Schedule your Meeting Time at Optimal Times 

In every organization, there are ‘busier’ times of the day and some that are ‘less-busy.’ If you don’t know when that sweet spot exists, ask your team. Use that time to hold your next meeting so that the meeting time can correlate with the office. Employees can rely on the certainty that they will be an active meeting participant and should be prepared to attend and fully contribute.

 4. Require Punctuality to Any Formal Meeting

Fewer things kill the momentum of an effective meeting than having attendees show up late or a revolving door to your meetings attendance. By establishing the rules of engagement, and setting the standard of expectation, you can fully commit to the meeting agenda without distraction, and maximize your meeting time. All attendees should be accountable for timeliness.

5. Attendee Two-Pizza Rule

You know your organization and team goals the best, but if you are curious as to the number of people for a successful meeting. Keep this little tip in mind. It’ll likely help you determine which colleagues should be there and who should not. Jeff Bezos uses this strategy to determine who needs to be at a business meeting. The idea behind it is that for productive business meetings, keep them sized large or small enough to feed everyone there with two pizzas. This size attendance provides enough feedback for a successful meeting and still obtains a clear goal for decision making.

 6. Design Actionable Moments into your Meeting Agenda

Along with accountability, have moments in the meeting where you assign an action. Either process-oriented or step-by-step action items give momentum to your goal and your meeting material. Folks need to feel a sense of growth and contribution in their professional lives. Design moments to commit to action in order to meet their needs.

 7. Celebrate Meeting Task Goals

Take time during your meetings to honor superior work and work in the process of being completed. It offers you as the decision-maker to recognize the people or team and give them praise for their efforts. Far too often, leaders get so focused on the task that they forget about the people producing. If you are intentional about celebrating successes, it’ll be on your radar to add to the next meeting agenda. With this at the forefront of your mind, it allows you to watch for these high performing individuals.

Being a better leader and a powerful participant. 

If you’d like to learn more about this topic, hop over to our E-Learning platform and take the Making Meetings Work Course! You’ll learn the specific tools, strategies, and skills to elevate your leadership game to the next level. Make your meeting space work! Best of luck to you, and remember to live and lead with purpose & passion!