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How to Encourage Intelligent Conversations at Meetings
One of the biggest complaints about meetings is that they're filled with tangential & childish conversation & that nothing gets done. I'll show you how to make your team come alive, engage in thoughtful conversation & come to intelligent decisions.
I'm in sales & I just accepted my first promotion to manager! I can't tell you how excited I am... I have so many new ideas & can't wait to get started.
Anyway my question is about meetings... what's the point? That's a serious question too. I don't know what they're all about, nothing gets done & I leave feeling stressed out.
Am I crazy to want to do away with meetings?<h2>Enlightened Managing's Response:</h2>
No you're not crazy, just frustrated and for good reason. However I'll show you how to lead a meeting where things get done and people actually feel good about working together.<h3>What's the Purpose of Meetings Anyway?</h3>
Poorly run meetings are ghastly affairs however meetings with an agenda, preparation and proper facilitation are priceless.
We've all had the experience of at least one good meeting. A meeting where everybody was on the same page in terms of respect, collaboration and cooperation. A meeting where old ideas where challenged, new insights gained. A meeting where work got done and decisions made that could never have been made by any one person alone, and everybody left with a sense of accomplishment.
Good meetings are beautiful but rare occurrences. They're so rare in fact that they seem to be completely out of our control, but they're not. Just as in management there are things we can do to ensure that meetings are useful and productive.<h3>An Agenda</h3>
Having and distributing an agenda is a key part of succusful meetings. When putting together your agenda make sure that ever item falls into one, and only one, of these three categories:
- Announcing things.
- Discussing things.
- Deciding things.
The announcements that take place in successful meetings should be short and relevant to the meeting participants. They should not include any significant discussion.
People need a heads up in order to engage in an intelligent discussion. An announcement, by definition, is a new piece of information which precludes a briefing and precludes an intelligent discussion.
This is one of the reasons why many meetings are filled with irrelevant back and forth and worthless discussions.<h3>Brief People Before Discussion Items</h3>
Discussions should be time-limited and maintain a clear purpose. Brief people beforehand when a discussion item is on the agenda.
Tell them what the discussion is going to be on, the point of the discussion and where they can go for more information.
In this way people will come to the meeting focused and ready to have an intelligent conversation.
Assign a task at the end of the allocated time. Such a task may include asking a member of the team to gather facts or analyse data.<h3>Allow People to Reflect on a Discussion Before Asking for a Decision</h3>
Final decicions should not be made when new facts have just been brought into the fore. Most of us need time to process new information, to ask questions and at times to conduct further research.
People balk when asked to make a decision before they are ready. They stall; they nitpick; they argue trivial points or they change the subject.
The result? People get stressed, they take sides, the meeting runs over, little gets done until the manager's finally forced to capitulate by bringing the meeting to a close.<h3>So Remember, For a Successful Meeting</h3>
- Have an Agenda.
- Keep announcement short & relevant.
- Give people the oppourtunity to prepare for a discussion.
- Allow your people to reflect on a discussion before asking for a decision.
Learn more about the author, Dr Gabriel Aidra.
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