While your organisational structures continue to mandate that your people spend a lot (too much?? That’s a conversation for another time) of their day in meetings, please stop being so boring!
I die a little inside when I hear things like:
- Replying to your text immediately cos I’m in the weekly ELT meeting (Executive while the online meeting was in progress)
- When we ask them for ideas and responses, we get crickets (CEO on semi-annual Town Hall sessions)
- They asked for feedback, but the reality is they didn’t want it. They have already decided. (Staff member after strategy feedback Q&A)
No! Please stop being so boring! And inaccessible… While you may genuinely want conversation, questions, feedback, that’s not the perception of many in your audience.
Here are three simple strategies you can apply today:
1) Get clear on the purpose. What are we here to achieve? Is this a decision forum? A communication forum? Information gathering or brainstorming? Who needs to be involved? How has this been communicated as part of the meeting invitation? In my Leaders Who Ask program I challenge people, if you can’t articulate the purpose of a meeting and why you are there, perhaps you should leave.
2) Ask open questions. ‘Does anyone have any questions?’ is a close-ended question, and I can respond in my head ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Done. You look uncomfortable… Then you close the meeting, confirming my suspicion that you didn’t really want questions anyway.
Instead ask ‘What questions or comments do you have?’ And then wait… patiently… in silence… beyond what you are comfortable with… until the questions come.
3) Get people talking in small groups first. After new content has been delivered (e.g. quarterly update, options for a strategy, project plan), get people into pairs or small groups to discuss their immediate response and tease out what else they want to know and what they could add. You will notice the engagement and energy levels rising. Then you can ask for questions and feedback.
What could you do today to improve the engagement in your meetings?
With a little help from my friends!
Bringing people together is a fabulous opportunity for magic to happen. Here are three of my talented friends who can help you be WAY less boring. In fact, they can equip you and leaders across your organisation with the capability to be fabulously dynamic in face to face and online gatherings.
Lynne Cazaly has inspired me for almost 20 years, and her thinking is always fresh. She helps teams shift to newer and better ways of thinking and working. Check out Lynne’s 90-minute Masterclasses for ways to engage, elicit and inspire participation and contribution.
Donna McGeorge is a global authority on productivity. One of my favourite Donna books is ‘The 25 Minute Meeting: Half the time and double the impact’. (No explanation needed!) Donna sometimes comes in for a day to work with exec teams in my 12-month Fearless Leadership® program.
Chad Littlefield is a delightful human who makes connection easier. While he’s in North America, don’t let that put you off as his virtual work is nothing short of brilliant. Get his weekly video blog for tactics you can apply immediately to your in-person and online gatherings.
No excuses. Be less boring