Designing a Memorable Meeting by Meggin McIntosh, Ph.D.
Unfortunately, WAAAYYY too much time is spent in unproductive meetings. You can help make sure the meetings at your school are productive by designing memorable meetings (so that people remember to be there, remember what happened, and remember what their tasks & responsibilities are).
Consider these ideas:
- Use drama. No kidding. Do something interesting and dramatic–not to distract, but to engage and make the meeting memorable.
- Start and end on time. This all by itself makes a meeting memorable, sad to say, in most organizations.
- Avoid weekly/daily/monthly meetings (unless they’re needed). Meetings should have a driving purpose (and the fact that it is Tuesday isn’t exactly compelling). Calling off a regular meeting by saying, “We don’t really need to meet this week,” makes the next one more memorable.
- Have the meeting involve some conflict. If you haven’t already read it, read Patrick Lencioni’s book, Death by Meeting. Of all of his great books, I think this is the best one.
- Make sure people are clear on the intent of the meeting. Announce it, post it, reiterate it, get everyone focused on the intent…and then make the rest of the meeting directed toward that intent. Memorable.
- Ensure that people leave the meeting with something that they didn’t come in with (idea, passion, task, useful handout, etc.) You want people talking about the meeting afterwards because they engaged with the ideas, concepts, purpose, etc.
- Design the meeting so that people know what their responsibilities are at the meeting. So often, people come to a meeting and they don’t even know why they are there or what their responsibilities are. If they are then called upon to make a report, offer an idea, share a plan, they are caught off guard and then sort of fumble around. Not too memorable.
- Order the agenda so that the most important items are first. Get and keep attendees energy ‘up’ right from the start of the meeting. Going over dribs and drabs of unimportant information starts sapping the energy from the people at the meeting, plus, you run the risk of having the meeting end, and you’ve barely gotten to the most important items.
- Learn how to use visual ideas. Do not bore others with a 500-item PowerPoint list. Numerous ways are avaiable to either use PowerPoint in a POWERFUL way or to use flip charts, white boards, 3-dimensional aides, etc. Especially with the younger and younger employees, if you don’t make it visual, you’re losing them.
- Plan for the meeting. Never wing it.
The statistics on the amount of time professionals spend in meetings is staggering. The saddest part is people believe that 1/2 the time they spend in meetings is wasted. Argh!
If you attend &/or plan meetings (and I know you do), then you need the Get a Plan! Guide® to Waayy Better Meetings. As a society, we cannot afford to be losing productivity to meetings that are poorly designed, unnecessary, or to whom the wrong people have been invited.