How often do you hear someone say, “We’re having too many meetings, lasting too long, and they are woefully mismanaged.” And yet, meetings can be the indispensable tool for getting work done. Let’s look at 10 ways to revitalize your project meetings and get more done.
1. Meet somewhere new. One simple but effective way to reinvigorate your meetings is to meet in a new location. What about meeting at an external location or meeting outside on a nice day. Variety is the spice of life.
2. Meet at a different time. You have a recurring meeting where you’ve been meeting from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. every Tuesday for the last year. How about moving the meeting to Tuesday morning from 8:30 – 9:30 a.m., schedules permitting, to leverage greater energy in the mornings.
3. Use a different facilitation technique. A bad habit is using the round robin every meeting. You start with the person on your left and you rotate from one person to another for updates. Use a different technique such as a whiteboard for example. Ask for the most significant limiting factors on your project and capture them on the whiteboard.
4. Rotate meeting roles. For meetings with ten or more people, I recommend that you assign meeting roles—facilitator, scribe, time-keeper, and gatekeeper, to name a few. Consider rotating the roles allowing different people to lead in different capacities. This gives everyone a greater appreciation for each role.
5. Invite someone new to the meeting. Perhaps you and the team have been trying to resolve a problem and you’ve met three times. Feeling stagnant? Invite another subject matter expert to provide a different perspective?
6. Undertake a team-building exercise. Wise leaders know how and when to inject team building exercises. Facilitate a problem-solving exercise, develop a work breakdown structure, or identify ways to improve project communication.
7. Develop or revive your ground rules. Perhaps your team has developed some bad habits—getting off track, showing up late, or reading emails on their smartphones. Ask your team to identify ground rules for future meetings that can drive better performance.
8. Do more planning and problem-solving. One big meeting problem is the lack of engagement. Participants are passive—brains are turned off. Rather than using meetings to report status, use the time to plan, to solve problems, and to innovate.
9. Stand up or walk for a meeting. Many agile teams perform daily stand-up meetings, fifteen minutes in length, to discuss: What did you do yesterday? What will you do today? Are there any impediments in your way? Rather than having a stand-up meeting, try a walking meeting (notify them in advance) where you discuss these questions.
10. Monitor energy levels. I’m not a fan of all-day meetings, but sometimes, they are necessary. Recognize that energy levels will likely diminish in the afternoon. What can you do to improve energy throughout the day? Provide good coffee and healthy snacks. Take a periodic stretch break. Break up into groups to discuss a topic or problem—have someone from each group share their group’s thoughts. Keep things moving.
Good leaders shape their team cultures. Think about your teams. What changes would you like to see in their attitudes and behaviors? Implement one or two of the ideas in this article. Evaluate whether the team is getting more done. Never let your meetings get into a rut. Periodically, try something new!
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