Essential Items For Your Meetings

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You know you need to bring your team together. There are several important things you need to accomplish in the meeting, but the bad news is you know the meeting will take at least two hours. Based on the meeting culture you have, people will loathe this. So, what can you do?

The answer: Have a great meeting. How do you do that? Mix it up. A meeting longer than 45 minutes needs to have 3-5 components within in to be rendered successful to the skeptics. (Sometimes meeting content is high value for you as team leader, but not valued the same way for others. You need to be okay with that, and occasionally so do they.  But you can’t systematically have meetings that are of a low value to your team.)

Not every meeting requires all of this content – but if you plan to keep people’s attention, develop, inspire, and make decisions that help everyone, make sure to include three of these content types in each of your longer meetings:

  1. Development
    What competency can be taught in your meeting that improves those in it? How can you challenge their thinking, habits, or interpersonal interactions in order for them to be better developed for their life or job role? This takes sacrifice because it’s going to take up time in your meeting – and also before it. . It takes preparedness. Adding development items into your agenda isn’t something you think of while walking to the meeting, or pull from some other leader’s website that morning. This requires you to plan and prepare to develop others.  For example: during my regular senior leadership meeting which is 2.5 hours in length, we typically set aside 25-30 minutes for development. If you value development as a leader, prove it.
  1. The “why”
    You’ve got to ensure your team knows the why for several things: the meeting itself, any significant agenda items, and the bigger why of them being required to work hard all the time.  Sometimes you’ll need to give context by telling a story or giving history on how we got here. Other times, just a simple statement like this will be sufficient:  “We have this meeting to ensure we make collaborative and well-informed decisions on matters that influence our… ”
  1. Buy-in
    Let them participate and have influence. Some meetings are simply a download of information – but those need to be short. Longer meetings need to have interaction – and participants need to have a stake in the outcome. You as a leader need to communicate what’s up for debate and consensus, versus what’s simply them speaking into a decision you or someone else will ultimately make. I’ve blogged before about the importance of establishing clarity regarding consensus versus input.
  1. Strategy
    I blogged recently about the importance of designing your meeting agenda with strategic discussion given the highest priority. There need to be times when you have discussions at higher levels of strategy, rather than getting caught in the weeds of operational details.
  1. Operational
    There are also times when you need to get in the weeds. Certain team members are going to want to always rush to the operational stuff. If they don’t see time on the agenda to discuss calendar items or details that allow them to do their work, you’ll lose them.  Don’t be afraid of doing this, but do assess its value and timing correctly in the overall meeting agenda.
  1. Laughter
    Don’t force this with a stand-up routine, but do allow margin for it. Most every team has that guy or gal who’s just funny. Let them be funny.  Don’t talk over everyone’s laughter by announcing the next agenda item. Live in the laughter for a moment. Sometimes it’ll need to be corralled, but do that sparingly.
  1. Bonus for those in ministry settings: Prayer
    Not just because you should, but because you want the meeting and its decisions to be dependent on wisdom from God. Praying not only reminds those in attendance who is ultimately in charge, but also allows for the Divine in an otherwise effort-driven- cause. I also like to leave room for spontaneous prayers. Sometimes a need or tense subject will come up, and fairly often, I’ll stop the meeting, and ask some to pray about the matter. It’s not given an agenda slot, and I do have to make up for the lost time elsewhere in the meeting, but I’ve never regretted it.

Not every great meeting requires all of these. But when you do include them, make sure to mix it up and engage those with differing learning styles. Don’t always do the ones easiest for you. I hope you have some great meetings.

(As an example of a meeting with these components, I’ve attached one of our recent meeting agendas for you to review. You can view it in my resources page, by clicking on this Sample meeting agenda.)

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