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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Better Meetings

I was volunteered to watch a client's repeating meeting. Depressing. It was scheduled for an hour, people arrived late to protect themselves or avoid discomfort, went for over 90 minutes.

What I learned:

Opinions don’t count. As satisfactory as airing an opinion is to the opinionator, it didn’t add value to the conversation. Higher status participants thinks organizational status confers intellectual brilliance. What works is relating an experience with a prospect or customer, something observed outside the building.

I was once told, “Dick, you’re not creative. Your idea of creativity is to ask ten people what they think.” Now I see that when prospects and customers tell you what they want, that is not your opinion, and it is the information needed.  

Stifle snap judgments. I saw three examples where the alphadog (manager, not worker) gave an explanation before understanding the situation. Needed a do over” each time. Full stop, reboot, repeat previous conversation. There were a lot of people sitting around watching.

Set a consistent agenda. This meeting wandered wherever the leader wanted to go. At the end, I couldn’t tell if he was satisfied or tired. Everyone else was just tired. You can either prototype the meeting format or get good information. I can’t do both at the same time.

End on time. If you can’t get it done in 50 minutes, you probably can’t get it done. Over time people learn based on what happens to them.

My solution? Why thank you for inquiring. *grin* Check out Sales Lab Status Meetings

What is your tip for better meetings?

3 comments:

Laura said...

Nice post - I enjoyed it. The flip side of snap judgments is better listening. All meetings could be run better if participants listen. I also think that asking for everyone's attention is important and this can mean refraining from mobile devices while the meeting is in order.

Jack Gates said...

Dick:

You just described about 95% of the meetings I've sat in during my professional career - probably about 100% for volunteer boards.

I can still recall shortly after joining the 'real world' after college coming to a brainstorming meeting with the guy sitting in the big chair (CEO) and he launched the full day meeting with a brief statement of the problem and his solution - then sat back an expected us minions to be creative. Reminds me of the class bully pointing to the last slice of pie at lunch saying "you don't want that do you?"

Data, not speculation or opinion, brings value to the conversation - especially if it is from the client.

-- Jack

Dick Davies said...

Hi Laura!

I think people are trained to listen.

Go over the information once, fast, and after they miss a few, those crackberries will stay on their belts. I also notice I get different behavior from the same people in my meetings by following this.

Thank you for commenting!