Our meetings often suck ... the life out of everyone. How can we stay energized and on track during hard team work?

Dear Meetings,

A great question! We know so many leaders who want the time they have with their teams to be productive and full of connection. It’s challenging to keep energy up when the stakes are high and you’re in a conference room for long stretches of time.

Here are two issues leaders juggle when staring down the challenge of holding effective meetings:

1. We need everyone to feel their contributions are needed and valuable. And I want to connect in a way that goes beyond “feel-good, touchy-feely questions.”

Authentic relationships can make the difference between a high-powered team and people who happen to work together. Investing in one another can be accomplished in just a few minutes.

Photo by  Antenna  on  Unsplash

Photo by Antenna on Unsplash

Fight the natural urge to jump right into the work and spend a few minutes checking in with your team.

Use this opportunity to tie these questions to your meeting objectives and honor people’s concerns and hopes for your time together.  Ask everyone to respond to questions like:

  • Rate your current energy level on a scale of 0-10. This helps establish your energy baseline.

  • What’s a big win you’ve had recently at work?

  • What’s something you’re nervous/excited about for the company this year?

  • What are you most looking forward to about our time today? What do you want to avoid?

Be sure to record people’s answers. These responses help prime the conversation to follow throughout the day in a low-risk way.

The way you start a meeting can remind everyone in the room of the power of their voices, and that yes, their presence and inputs are not only valuable, they are essential.

2. We’ve got to move the agenda along to make sure all important items are covered!

As a leader, you know how hard, and costly, it can be to get your team members in one room to tackle important issues. The last thing you want is the team to walk away wondering, “What the heck did we actually do today?”

Some methods that can help you move forward:

  • Write the items you need to cover on a white board or large piece of paper and have everyone rank from most important to least. Poll the team for how long to spend on each topic, and write start times for each.

  • Put a Parking Lot on the wall to capture any issues the team wants to cover that aren’t central to the topic. Deputize everyone to ask “Hey, is that a parking lot issue?”

  • Don’t shy away from disagreements. When contention arises, go around the room and ask everyone their perspective on the issue. You’ll be surprised at how much attention people will start paying at meetings!

And if the results you need are REALLY important - or if you cringe a little inside looking at the list above - consider bringing in a professional facilitator who can objectively walk you through tough conversations, stay on time targets, and record opportunities and challenges bubbling to the surface.  

Professional facilitators like us [shameless plug!] can help steer your team towards your objectives and targets set for your time together while strengthening relationships. They do this by crafting agendas and varied transitions from topic to topic, and keep tabs on energy in the room.  You also get the added benefit of being able to more fully participate with your team as you work on goals, strategies, and solutions together.

I hope this helps answer your question and bring some peace as you think about adding connection and energy to your meetings. If you’d like support to make your next meeting a high-energy filled success, let’s talk.