It seems that no matter how many ideas we gather for improving meetings we always want more.
Why?Because many of us still are caught in a never-ending stream of meetings.
So add these suggestions to your collection. They're bound to help.
- Conduct tightly focused, one-topic meetings standing up. People will be less likely to dawdle and drone on.
- To look good in a meeting, even if you don't have much to contribute, ask questions. It's safe participation.
- If you expect opposition at a meeting, line up support for your ideas ahead of time. Anticipate your opponent's arguments and plan stronger counter arguments.
- Don't offer a proposal in a meeting without answering these questions: How much will it cost? Why should we do it? What is the goal?
- Write your agenda so it's relevant to the participants, not just to you.
- Encourage dissent. If participants unanimously approve an idea without voicing concerns, postpone a decision until the next meeting. Wait for more thoughtful analysis.
- But be careful. Letting people play devil's advocate too often can paralyze meetings. And heaping too much criticism on new or unusual ideas will cause them to dry up.
- To jump-start a stalled meeting: Restate the goal; sum up the main positions and options; ask everyone for a new approach; come up with three "what if . . ." statements. Or table the discussion until next time.
- If you disagree with someone's idea, listen carefully for one tiny piece that you like and can build on. Then say, "I liked the part about xyz. What if we started there and. . . ."
- Keys for disagreeing effectively in a meeting: Be respectful; listen first; ask questions; be specific and constructive; be non-judgmental; offer alternatives.
- Avoid taking potentially embarrassing public votes in a meeting. If an issue is discussed thoroughly the consensus will be obvious.
- Post meeting rules in your conference room. Include tips on leading a meeting, being a good participant and jump-starting a stalled meeting.
- When dealing with a controversial topic keep the meeting small. It will move more quickly.