How to Hold Meetings That Nobody Hates

Prevent employee eye rolls at yet another meeting invitation on their calendar. Here's how to make them truly productive.
Founder, Duct Tape Marketing Consultant, LLC
September 24, 2012

Meetings are often dreaded by many employees, and even many managers. Without planning, they can be boring, unproductive and just plain draining. In order to hold meetings that nobody hates attending, you need to hold a new kind of meeting.

The need for meetings can be different for every company. You can have daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly meetings. But no matter how often you bring your people together for a meeting, there are several keys that keep meetings productive and, well, less hated.

Here are some guidelines to follow for each meeting:

Every Meeting Needs a Clear Action Purpose

What is the point of the meeting? What results are you hoping to achieve? What topic is being focused on? Effective meetings are about making decisions about things and not about reading the memo that was sent to everyone prior to the meeting.

Prior to any meeting communicate things that need to be decided and choose to highlight only the top two or three points to be touched on during the meeting. When you know exactly what topics you will be discussing during the meeting, it is easy to stay on course.

Meetings aren’t for brainstorming – that’s for brainstorming sessions. 

Everyone Needs to Know What the Meeting is for Before the Meeting 

A day or two before the meeting (or even at the end of the previous meeting), let your employees know what is being discussed. This gives everyone a heads up so they can make any notes of things they need to contribute to the discussion. Do not hold a meeting that calls for solutions to a customer service problem without letting the employees know first. Otherwise, the entire meeting will be spent with people thinking instead of discussing.

Giving the employee’s time to prepare for the meeting means that your meetings will be more productive and will be concluded with solutions instead of question marks.

Set a Time Limit

Meetings should last no more than thirty minutes. Set a start and finish time and stick to it. This will ensure that you are getting through all of the points that need to be gone over instead of rambling aimlessly. Set a brief outline for the meeting and allot a set amount of time for each topic so that you don’t run out of time and leave something out. 

Share the Spotlight 

Even though you are running the meeting, it doesn’t mean yours is the only voice that should be heard. Ask pointed questions. Encourage the team to throw out their ideas. If someone is holding back a little, draw them out and get them involved in the discussion. During meetings, it is important to let every person know that they have a voice and that you want to hear what they have to say about the topic.

Give Credit Where Credit’s Due

Meetings are a great time to stop and give recognition for a job well done. You don’t have to give a long, drawn-out statement of adoration. A few simple words will do the trick. For many employees, the recognition of their hard work can be just as important as money. If someone needs to be talked to for a job “not” well done, it is better to take them aside then to bring it out in front of everyone. 

Only Include the People Who Need to Be There 

If you need to have a meeting with your customer service team, then the rest of your employees do not need to attend. If the topics do not apply to everyone, then don’t hold a mandatory meeting for everyone. There will only be more distractions and you will be pulling people away from the tasks that they should be focusing on at the time. Keep the meetings productive by having a smaller group with only the people that are affected.

Meetings can be useful for everyone if you take the time to plan and prepare. Don’t try to rush in and out of them or else you will end up wasting time and seeing no results.

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

Founder, Duct Tape Marketing Consultant, LLC