If you have sat through a few bad meetings, you must have experienced the
following traps. Here they are and how to fix them.
1) People think they are experts.
Many people tell me that they know how to hold a meeting. Actually, all they do is
host a party. They invite guests, provide treats, and preside over a conversation.
People talk. People eat. And nothing happens. Or, if they somehow manage to reach
an agreement, no one implements it.
What to do: Learn how to lead a real meeting. Schedule a workshop or buy a book.
When results really matter, hire a facilitator. Recognize that there are modern tools
that help people make methodical progress toward results. These tools are practical
and easy to use. Of course, you have to know what they are in order to use them.
Call me (714-528-1300) for details.
2) People think they are inspiring.
Many people believe that long-winded announcements impress others. Actually, it’s
the opposite. A long lecture quickly becomes a boring (and sometimes offensive)
harangue. Why? Most employees want an active role in contributing to the business,
and thus listening to a speech feels like a waste of time.
What to do: Design meetings that give the attendees opportunities to contribute.
Plan questions that direct thinking toward the results that you want. Use activities
that help people make decisions. Distribute announcements in letters, memos, or E-
mails. Or, if you must use a meeting, keep announcements brief (less than a few
3) People think others agree with them.
Many people rely on nods, smiles, and eye contact to measure acceptance. Actually,
most employees will do anything to appease a boss. And if the boss seems to be
upset, the employees will become even more agreeable. Then, once the meeting
ends, the employees will do one of three things: 1) forget the lecture, 2) ignore the
message, or 3) sabotage the idea.
What to do: Conduct meetings by a process that everyone considers to be fair. Use
consensus to reach agreements and make decisions. People will accept decisions
that they helped make.
4) People think others are clairvoyant.
Many people call meetings without an agenda expecting that everyone will arrive
sharing their vision for what needs to be done. Actually, everyone brings their
private hopes, fears, and vision to the meeting. Without a clear agenda, the result is
something between chitchat and chaos, depending upon the complexity of the
Note: A vague agenda, such as a list of topics, is almost as useless as no agenda.
What to do: Write out your goal for the meeting. Then prepare an agenda that is so
complete someone else could use it to run the meeting without you. Specify each
step and provide a time budget. Send the agenda at least a day before the meeting
so that the attendees can use it to prepare. Call key participants before the meeting
to check if they have questions or want to talk about the agenda.
5) People think meetings are necessary.
Many people respond to every emergency, surprise, or twitch by calling a meeting.
Actually, a meeting is a special (and expensive) process. It should be used only to
obtain results that require the efforts of a group of people working as a team. A
meeting is NOT a universal cure for everything. Meetings held for the wrong
reasons, waste everyone’s time.
What to do: Challenge every meeting for its ability to earn a profit for your business.
That is, make sure the value of the results is greater than the cost of holding a
meeting. If any other activity can accomplish the same result, use that other activity.
Steve Kaye helps leaders hold effective meetings. He is an IAF Certified Professional
Facilitator, author, and speaker. His meeting facilitation and leadership workshops
create success for everyone. Call 714-528-1300 for details. Visit
http://www.stevekaye.com for a free report.