Posts tagged focus
Six Tips To Leading A More Productive Meeting

Out of 11 million meetings occurring in the U.S. each day, a third are unproductive...

There is nothing more trying than a futile meeting. Not only is it time-consuming and costly, but a fruitless meeting says a lot about your leadership. Your ability to run a meeting well is a direct reflection of your executive talents. Leaders have it tough already, battling the stigma placed on the dreaded office meeting, so it is important that you maintain meaningful and productive meetings at your company. As lackluster as most tend to be, they are still an integral part of the organization. However, for a meeting to be effective, the preparation must take place way in advance. Improve productivity in your next meeting with these simple tips:

1. Define the Purpose

You should always have a purpose, or a reason for which the meeting is called. Determining the purpose allows you to set the tone and direction for which way the meeting will go. Furthermore, it provides a guideline for the agenda, as well as who should attend and the specific methods to take when making decisions.

2. Pre-meeting Communication

Delegate an ample amount of time beforehand going over the issues up for discussion. Then, decided whether or not these concerns can be easily addressed through a less demanding platform, such as Email. Far too often valuable time is lost on meetings that could have been successfully handled through simpler forms of communication.

3. Stick to an Agenda

Without an agenda, the purpose of the meeting becomes askew. People begin to fill in space with inane chatter about issues, many times having absolutely nothing to do with the meeting itself. Help prepare your staff by circulating the agenda in advance. Also, be mindful of other people’s schedules by beginning and ending the meeting on time.

4. Attendees

Meetings are not for everyone. There are always those exceptions, however in most cases, inviting too many people brings on a surge of chaos which leads to an unproductive meeting. It is important to figure out who needs to be there and for what reasons. With this knowledge, you can then design the agenda the way you see fit.

5. Focus

Limit the usage of mobile phones, computers, PDAs and alike. Stress the importance of focus and demand full attention from your attendees.

6. Encourage Participation

Ask each attendee to prepare a solution to any one issue on the agenda. Begin the meeting by reading each contribution aloud. Not only will this assure you that the agenda has been reviewed and read, but it creates a great deal of innovation and discussion as well.

Pay Attention to Your Attention

Meaning: Are you good at multi-tasking? Many leaders are, and the fact is, they have lots of priorities and decisions to juggle, as well as office phones, cell phones, desktop computers, laptops, and/or iPads with all kinds of messages jangling for attention. Yet with so many clamoring stimuli, do you consider your degree of attention toward others, either in large group or one-on-one settings? Those you meet with notice. If you’re giving more attention to the text message that just vibrated your phone than what the person in front of you is saying, you are sending a message about what is most important to you. Instead, consider this ground rule: whatever you are doing in the moment, be fully present for it. By giving others the power of your attention, you send a clear signal: “You matter to me, and this topic is important to me.”

Ideas for Action: As a leader, what you say or do matters immensely to those around you – and especially to those who report to you. Just as you expect the full attention of your direct reports during one-on-ones or team meetings, so too do they seek and deserve your undivided attention when presenting information or soliciting your opinion. Be sure you are not short-changing them by being more responsive to a text message than to them.

Many leaders underestimate how much others pay attention to everything they say and do. You’ve probably had the experience of someone saying to you, “Well, you said that…” and being shocked to know that your seemingly offhand comment somehow became gospel. It’s a hard lesson. A newly promoted senior leader said to me, “You mean I have to watch what I say now – I can’t be myself?” Yes, you can be “yourself,” but that doesn’t mean you can say everything that occurs to you. Your words matter a lot; others may repeat them or act on them.

Your comments, actions and body language convey powerful cues to others, who look for congruence. For instance, consider the CEO who proudly espoused an “open-door policy” and a desire to hear from others, but then communicated the exact opposite by having his office door physically moved so that his assistant would be anyone’s first touch point. That was a message! Or the leader who spent much of her division meeting regularly checking her iPad in front of her team and answering e-mails, sending a tacit signal that distractions matter more than her team.

Eye contact is powerful. We generally don’t think about eye contact as being a leadership skill, but I think it is. You can either get someone to keep talking or be quiet through eye contact or lack thereof. How long do you wish to keep talking when the person opposite you is scrolling through their e-mails? Conversely, how valued do you feel when the person opposite you looks you in the eye and acknowledges what you say?

Upon his passing, the late Minnesota Twins slugger Harmon Killebrew was eulogized by fans and players alike, not just for his prodigious home runs, but even more for the attention he bestowed on those around him. “He was a consummate professional who treated everyone – from the brashest of rookies to the groundskeepers to the ushers in the stadium – with the utmost of respect. I would not be the person I am today if weren’t for Harmon Killebrew,” said fellow Hall of Fame player Rod Carew.

I know some senior leaders who have banned open laptops, cell phones and iPads from their meetings. Their mantra is, “if you need to step out to make an important call, do it – but don’t destroy the importance of this meeting by being only half here.” That’s a clear message about showing up and paying attention.

The word communication comes from the Latin word communicare, meaning to share. By sharing your attention with others, not only do you enhance information-exchange, you set a positive example for others to follow. You have a chance, minute-to-minute to show who and what is important to you. What’s your choice?