Seth Godin hosted a Facebook Live session with Simon Sinek to answer questions from small business owners that are finding their way through the coronavirus pandemic. Questions spanned many topics, but the one that stopped me was one about how to run effective meetings.
Godin immediately responded: “Cancel all of your meetings! That’s my best advice.”
As a third-party member of the teams I support while I work from home along with everyone else I support, I take part in many meetings. Godin’s advice was completely counter to my daily experience and so I asked myself, Are the many meetings I attend effective?
I started to evaluate the various meetings I’d attended over the past couple of weeks and concluded that while it’s often true that you should “Keep the doughnuts and cancel the meeting,” there are legitimate ways to run effective meetings.
Here are five types of meetings that result in progress:
People coming together to work on a project will perform at a higher level if they understand the context. They’ll be empowered to have an opinion and develop ideas that contribute to furthering the purpose of the project if they know the goal and what everyone is working toward.
The agenda here is to provide context through sharing information and answering questions. This can set you up for success as you embark on something new.
Status Reporting and Next Steps
Projects run smoother when there are built-in accountability checks with the stakeholders and project leads.
While you can easily email the status report to everyone involved, running an effective meeting means having everyone come together — to celebrate the wins and milestones and jointly acknowledge the progress and work that remains — which inspires everyone to keep working hard and stay focused. Plus it keeps all the players on the same page.
Likewise, if a project is in trouble, working together to solve the issues during brainstorming sessions can remind people they’re all in this together. It helps produce the best ideas for how to move forward.
In today’s environment, everyone has more work to do than time to do it. There seems to be a continuous push to cut budgets and do more with less, and that includes with our people.
In the daily stress of trying to get it all done, we can support our employees and team members by helping them prioritize what to focus on.
This can be enormously helpful to someone who’s feeling overwhelmed. Well-run meetings don’t need to be long to be effective; sometimes a 10-minute check-in is enough. The simple act of helping someone focus on one thing at a time can improve their productivity exponentially.
Planning and Strategizing
It’s important to schedule routine reviews of the strategies you have in place to accomplish your goals.
This work can be even more effective when working with other people instead of going it alone.
Whether you’re working with outside advisors or your own staff, setting aside time to evaluate whether the day-to-day activities are meeting the company’s mission, are in alignment with its values, and are furthering its vision serves purpose.
A well-run and effective meeting provides inspiration, leads to the evolution of ideas and execution of plans, and brings everyone together. They help you see the forest and get out of the weeds.
Feedback and Help Session
With the speed of advancing technology along with the ever-growing complexities of our worlds, all of us are constantly learning and using this new knowledge to accomplish our work.
Additionally, to incorporate different experiences and points of view, we’re increasing the diversity of our teams to include people of different ages, genders, educational backgrounds, and ethnicities.
All of this provides the opportunity to level up our projects as well as our own and one another’s capabilities — particularly if we help one another through feedback and training. It’s important to be able to rely on one another in this way regardless of hierarchy and our work relationships.
Our experiences allow us to grow every day when we share them, and this often happens when you run effective meetings.
If you want your meeting to be effective, make sure it serves a purpose and has an agenda. If there’s no purpose, I agree with Seth Godin: Cancel it.
Belinda DiGiambattista is a serial entrepreneur, business coach, and outsourced financial controller and can be found at www.belindadi.com.