Blog > What are the 3 big mistakes that Meeting Leaders make that keep them frustrated with drawn out meetings and a lack of enthusiasm?

November 12, 2013

Number One: They do all the work themselves

This means you are in front of the group, maybe chairing the meeting or leading a workshop, and seem to be doing all the work, while the participants sit passively – you’re not even sure if they are listening. They don’t answer questions or contribute much, and if they do, it’s often to disagree with each other. It can be demoralising, drawn out, and frustrating. You don’t plan to do all the work – you want people to participate – but what can you do? You need to get an outcome, you need to make sure the meeting was worthwhile, so you step in and do the work. It’s important to get others involved and contributing – the people in the room bring different perspectives, and without those you may be missing valuable information and ideas. There’s lots of ways of getting people to participate and contribute their ideas.

Try this: Pose an open question (that’s one that has no specific answer, there could be many different ways of looking at it) and then get people to pair up or in groups of 3, and ask them to discuss and write up a couple of answers. Use these answers as the basis for further discussion. This gives you an overview of people’s thinking, and importantly, they are doing the work, not you!

Number Two: The agenda is crowded and inflexible

Someone probably took some time and effort to create the agenda – asking people in advance what was important – and creating an agenda that is full of ‘very important topics’ and not enough time to do them justice. There are also all those ‘carry over’ items from the last meeting. The result is a crowded agenda that is set in advance, and everyone expects that it will be followed (because that’s what agendas are for!)

Just how much time do you and your colleagues spend in meetings? I bet it’s a lot! Have you ever counted the amount of time you spend in meetings in a week? Have you ever worked out how much of that time was worthwhile? Of course you haven’t! You’re too busy attending meetings!

Try this: Spend 10 minutes at the beginning of the meeting creating the agenda (this will also encourage people to be on time, because if they’re not present, their topic won’t get a mention). Ask everyone who wants to, to write up an agenda item on a flip chart. Then ask everyone in the room to cast three votes (this can be simple as three ticks) and vote for the three topics they think are most important for this meeting to address right now (they can vote for any except their own). Tally up the votes and start with the top vote getter. Continue down the list until finished or until time runs out – whichever happens first.

Number Three: They don’t really know how to get people actively involved

They have been to plenty of meetings, workshops and events and have sometimes seen, or even participated, in ways to get people actively involved, but don’t feel confident or able to do this themselves. So much could go wrong, it’s easier to play it safe and do what they are familiar with – even if it’s not working.

We can’t go on meeting like this!

There is so much time and energy wasted in unproductive meetings, so many ideas lost and not shared, and grumpiness about yet another boring meeting. We simply can’t go on meeting like this! We need to reinvent the ways we meet and how we engage with each other and get that valuable time back for all the other important things we do our lives.

I’ve seen my friends and family exhausted after a week at work, with no energy left for their family and friends. They don’t know that there are better, more efficient, rewarding and fun ways to have meetings – yes, even meetings about very serious issues. They don’t know that they are shouldering all of the work, and trying to do too much when there are simple strategies they can use to host engaging meetings, deal with difficult people and topics and be prepared to step in whenever needed to host a great meeting.

I’ve seen people who are passionate and talented get into a meeting and drown in the process. They come away feeling demoralised and exhausted. It saddens me because I know it doesn’t have to be like this. It’s easy to learn. I learnt it, by trial and error, but you don’t have to.

I’ve decided to share with you a whole bunch of tips and tricks thst I’ve learnt and developed over 20 years of designing and leading meetings – from one hour meetings to multi-day events.  You too can learn How to Lead Engaging and Productive Meetings.

Here’s another tip, one that I use often. Use the walls and get people moving. If you have five options (for example) and you want people to debate which will work the best, get people on their feet and making an initial choice. Write the options on flip chart and put them on the walls around the room. Ask people to go and stand by the one they think will be the best option. Ask them to write up the reasons on the flip chart and to advocate from that position. Offer people the choice to move to a different option once they have heard the arguments. This enables you to document the arguments and to have the debate without getting bogged down and to see where everyone in the group stands on the issue – literally.

How to Lead Engaging and Productive Meetings is a one-day intensive.

You’ll have tools to conduct much more engaging meetings, and people will want to attend your meetings, instead of finding an excuse. Why? Because they know they will get value and be valued by attending your meeting – they will participate instead of being passive. This means you’ll get more time for the things that matter, and have more enjoyable meetings.

I’m offering just one program before Christmas and it’s limited to 18 people.

Of course, you can get more engaging and productive meetings by engaging a facilitator – like me! It’s what I do for a living. I would come and work with you to find out what you need, design the meeting, facilitate it on the day. I recommend this. I’m great to work with. I’m experienced as a facilitator and nothing much fazes me. This would cost you $5500 for a day-long meeting. This is not what I’m offering right now, but if you are interested, drop me an email or call me on 0417 135 406.

The cost for How to Lead Engaging and Productive Meetings – where you’ll learn the skills to get people involved, is just $493. And I’ll provide follow-up coaching and mentoring – all included.

I know how helpful it can be to have others from your organisation also learning this. So, if three or more people from the same company/organisation registers at the same time I’ll give you all a 50% discount.

Click here to register now for December 4 in Melbourne. 


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