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What You Can Do to Ensure Better Business Meetings

The Top 10 Fixes for Miserable Meetings series in the CONNECT2Lead Blog is wrapping with this summary post. Click here to read each of the articles in this series about conducting better business meetings. Or click on the links below for a deeper dive into any of the topics in the series:

Graphic Showing Conference Meeting with a CallIntroduction: Are You Making These 10 Common Mistakes in Meetings? 

Meeting Fix #1: All Over the Map? Try Outcome-Based Meetings

Meeting Fix #2: Who’s on First? Meeting Roles & Responsibilities

Meeting Fix #3: A Rudderless Ship Leads to Wasted Time in Meetings

Meeting Fix #4: One Trick Pony? Stop & Ask “Do We Really Need a Meeting?”

Meeting Fix #5: Back to the Drawing Board! Misunderstandings about Meeting Agendas

Meeting Fix #6: Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth. Determining Who Should Attend Your Meeting

Meeting Fix #7: The Hands of Time. Best Practices for Scheduling Your Meeting

Meeting Fix #8: Mind Your Manners! Meeting Etiquette 101

Meeting Fix #9: Out in the Cold. Making Your Meetings More Inclusive

Meeting Fix #10: From a Distance. Special Considerations for Virtual Meetings

All the fixes we’ve covered in this series have three common denominators. 

  1. Planning (even a little bit!) improves the quality and effectiveness of meetings. 
  2. When you put PEOPLE first, you’ll have better meetings that don’t feel like a waste of time.
  3. Anyone, at any level, can positively impact the quality of meetings. 

We’ll end the series with a look back at these three essentials and an encouraging word to be the change you want to see in the meetings you attend.

Better Business Meetings Require Planning and Discipline

No agenda? No advance notice about what the meeting’s all about? Not sure why you’ve been invited and what you’re expected to contribute? 

That’s frustrating. Chances are that others feel the same way you do. But if this is the norm in your organization, everyone’s resigned to it and showing up for meetings unprepared. 

Because folks are unprepared, the meeting doesn’t accomplish much. It almost certainly necessitates a follow-up meeting… but without proper planning and discipline that follow-up meeting isn’t going to be very productive either. 

This vicious cycle is why so many meetings are so miserable. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Organizations can adopt standards and rigor for outcome-based meetings that clearly convey the purpose of the meeting, who should attend and why, what’s expected in the meeting, and what the action items will be. 

Your organization isn’t going to do that? Don’t despair. You can still make a positive impact on the meetings you host and the ones you’re invited to. 

When you’re the host, set the example by using an outcomes-based approach (see Meeting Fix #1). People will be so impressed with the caliber of your meetings, that they’ll begin to adopt some of your techniques. 

When you’re invited to a meeting, ask these questions before accepting the invitation:

  • What’s the desired outcome for this meeting?
  • Why do you want me to attend? What are you hoping I’ll contribute?
  • Is there an agenda or a topic list for the meeting so I can prepare? 

Your questions, asked in a matter-of-fact (not accusatory!) way, will get people thinking differently about how to host quality meetings. Sometimes, your questions will be the impetus for change. Other times, they’ll stimulate thinking about alternate ways to conduct meetings. Occasionally, you’ll find out that you’re not really the right person to attend and save yourself from a time-wasting experience. All three are positive outcomes that will, over time, improve overall meeting effectiveness. 

Employee Engagement and Productivity Are Linked to Better Business Meetings

Every team member benefits from the improved engagement of other team members. There’s a contagious effect when team members feel a sense of belonging in the organization and an emotional connection to the work they do. When people feel valued, ennobled, and empowered, they are more productive and contribute more. Overall, morale improves.

Improved morale makes the work seem less like work. That, in turn, creates a positivity that improves the emotional connection and so on… it’s a virtuous circle. 

Business meetings influence the emotional connection, sense of belonging, ennoblement, and morale of team members. 

When a team member feels sidelined, marginalized, shut down, or publicly embarrassed in a meeting, the impact is immediate and negative. 

When a team member feels included, valued, and able to contribute for the greater good in a meeting, the impact is immediate and positive. (See meeting fix #9 for making meetings more inclusive.)

Every participant in a meeting has the power to positively or negatively impact others. That impact carries beyond the meeting and has the potential to impact work productivity, others’ moods, and the workplace culture. 

In other words, what happens in meetings doesn’t stay in meetings. The way people interact with colleagues in meetings has far-reaching implications that can affect a great many people and their output.

Being considerate and thoughtful about how you engage with others is the best way to ensure you don’t derail others’ contributions in ways that can have a blow back impact on you. (See meeting fix #8 for more about the basics of meeting behavior.) 

Don’t Wait for Others in Your Organization! Get Started Today! 

You don’t have to wait for the organization to fix meetings you attend. Big organizations are slow to change and may never see the need for change if everyone passively accepts the status quo (while internally groaning every time a meeting is scheduled).

Be the change you want to see in your organization’s meetings. Your impact will be small, at first. But even the small wins you’ll experience can have big impacts. You’ll be doing things that save time, make meetings more productive, provide clarity, improve engagement, reduce follow-up meetings and endless admiring of the problem, and feel more in control of your time and efforts. 

This is what it looks like to lead. And you can be a leader at any level. Others will notice your leadership and reward you for it. They’ll emulate what you’re doing, thereby improving other meetings. Your leadership isn’t dependent on pronouncements from on high about how meetings will be conducted. Within your own circles, you have influence. Use it!CTA_IconDude_PFLA Miserable Mtgs_030923-1