How to make meetings more productive
In the 1960s, executives spent an average of 10 hours a week in meetings: now it’s closer to 23. Yet we still haven’t mastered the art of meeting well. Beyond that, with the added benefit of technology we have now moved many of our meetings online. By employing clever facilitation techniques and managing tricky attitudes, we can turn a time drain into a productive teamwork tool.
- Establish ground rules. The first 30 seconds of a business meeting are the most important in determining what you’ll achieve and how. From no mobile phones to majority rules, set out how the meeting will run and how actions will be agreed to establish your credibility from the start.
- Vary the processes. Everyone needs a reason to be in a meeting, just as they need their voice to be heard. It can be even more difficult when managing a meeting remotely to ensure everyone feels they are a contributor. Prevent one or two people dominating the discussion by introducing paired and small group discussions, and using a variety of facilitation techniques to keep attendees engaged.
- Delve deeper. Surface-level discussions are circular, unproductive and frustrating for everyone. Use clever questioning to draw out unsaid tensions and open up richer seams of debate. Ask not just what people know about a topic but their judgments of it, how they could apply that knowledge to current challenges and how they might combine it with other viewpoints.
- Communicate clearly. Effective online communication can be accomplished by using concise and clear language. By choosing the right communications platforms and adhering to general rules of ‘netiquette’ (a framework for accepted behaviors) your team may be more likely to respond positively.
- Try out different thinking hats. Creativity guru De Bono uses six different ‘hats’ to evaluate a situation: facts, emotions, negatives, positives, creative possibilities, and big-picture thinking. Encourage participants to move together between these stances to ensure all viewpoints have been considered before drawing conclusions.
To ensure we’re getting the best out of ourselves and our employees during this uncertain time, sign up to the Mind Gym webinar, on March 24th – “Making virtual work: how to show up remotely and earn respect during COVID-19” here.