Have you ever looked up halfway through a meeting wondering what the heck the reason for the meeting is!? Have you ever ended a meeting, with no clear direction or action items? I know I have, and it can be frustrating.
As an Agile Coach, traditional boardroom meetings are not something that we tend to advocate for. We lean towards more fluid interactions such as quick huddles ideally around a work visualization system like a Kanban board. That said when it is necessary to set up a formal meeting make it a POWERful one. Let me show you what I mean.
A meeting should have a clear Purpose. This purpose should be articulated to all participants prior to the beginning of the meeting. This ensures everyone knows what they’re walking into and how to be best prepared.
Each meeting should identify the Outcomes the team strives to achieve. by the end of the allotted time. This is important because if you set a target, it helps participants formulate their agenda and stay on track. In addition, the team should strive to accomplish a manageable number of outcomes during a meeting. I find the golden number between 3-7 to be a good rule of thumb.
I like to write down a prioritized checkbox list of outcomes on flip chart paper or whiteboard where everyone can see. As the meeting progresses, proceed to check them off one by one. This creates a sense of accomplishment which should energize the group. If the team starts to veer off-topic, you can use the physical list to keep them on track.
Who & Why
Making clear, Who should be present in a meeting and Why it’s important for them to attend can be very helpful. If a participant is double or triple booked and trying to decide which meeting to go to, a quick blurb on why it’s important for them to attend can help in their decision making.
When facilitating a meeting it is important to ensure Engagement by everyone involved. Now I’m not saying participants should speak for the sake of speaking. However, a good facilitator will observe quieter participants and encourage them to contribute to the discussion. This can be done by asking for their opinion on questions or decisions. This leads to higher team morale and more well-rounded decision making.
Roles & Responsibilities
Sitting around a table chatting can be helpful, but you run the risk of forgetting things that were discussed. Is anyone taking notes? Should we visualize this to help us step through the problem? Should we dial someone into the meeting? A facilitator should assign clear Roles and Responsibilities to participants in the room to allow for a smoother experience.
A trap I have fallen into is assuming that because the facilitator of the meeting is a senior member of the team, that they should facilitate a proper meeting. That is definitely not always the case. Beginning a meeting by asking some of the above questions can be very helpful and if delivered respectfully will be appreciated.
Take these tips into consideration the next time you click send on a calendar invite and walk into your next meeting. Need support in coaching your team in facilitating great meetings? Reach out to us, we are happy to help.