Ample means “way, WAY too many.”
Here is one thing I have experienced from all of this ampleness: it is very distressing to see so many managers fail miserably in leading meetings. Not to mention the actual cost of these meetings. Add up the total compensation of the team sitting in your next meeting and determine the hourly rate your company is paying for them to be there. It is frightening.
A quick Google search produced 89 million results when you type in “Team Meeting.” Just about everyone has a perspective on what makes for a good meeting.
Too often, leaders limit their definition (and practice) of effective meetings to an agenda with topics for review or discussion. This is wholly inadequate.
The following “3 Part Agenda Model” is a much more effective framework for setting an agenda and conducting an effective meeting. It is plain, and it is simple. If you follow it faithfully (in order!), you can reduce your meeting times by as much as 50%.
And…you can get a whole lot more accomplished.
Part I: Information
Question: What is the single largest violator of time in a meeting?
Answer: Sharing and exchanging information.
Part I of this model requires you to distribute and share information beforehand, and if need be, allow for a short “quiet time” right at the beginning of the meeting for information review. No more than 15% of any team meeting should be allotted to information sharing.
Part II: Discussion
This is where your address your topics. When it comes to addressing topics, I recommend you hold to a singular, overriding purpose. All discussion should be seeking to do one of two things:
a. Clarification for future decision-making
b. Clarification for future action by the team or individual members
40 to 60% of your meeting should be dedicated to DISCUSSION.
Part III: Decisions
This is where you construct a list of the decisions that must be made at the meeting. As a leader of a team, you have an inherent obligation to be clear about exactly who is making the decision….is it the leader? Is it another manager? Is it the team?
A key to great decisions is timing. It is important to not take your team by surprise and have them later complain “I thought we had already made the decision….What happened?”
DECISIONS should occupy between 25 to 45 % of your meeting.
Following this straightforward model for creating a meeting agenda is a great framework and a great start. However, there are numerous ways a team can go “sideways” during a meeting.
Here are three of the major hurdles to an effective team meeting:
1. Allowing a manager or leader to “storytell,” or embellish their example ad nauseam. Learn to first express your ideas, concerns, and information without taking away valuable time. Then, once you have learned this, teach others. Stop the war stories.
2. Allowing hidden agendas to surface. Keep the focus of the meeting exclusively upon the planned agenda items.
3. Allowing the practice of going “around the room” so everyone can have a voice. When you attend a meeting where everyone reports — whether they have something to contribute or not — wastes hours and hours of valuable time.
What do you think of my “3 Part Agenda Model”? What other hurdles have you seen (or practiced yourself) that have crippled the purpose and the successful outcome of your team meetings?