As meeting facilitators and trainers, we often hear about behaviour that causes meetings to drag or for the discussion to go all over the place. For example, people leave late, have side conversations or multi-task. While it might sound obvious that we should discuss and agree how to act in meetings, in reality people feel uncomfortable to comment on behaviour that’s gone on for so long.
As Peter Drucker said, “Strategy eats culture for breakfast”.
So, how do we change our culture around the way we have meetings, recognizing that it can be a tough thing to do? Here are a few ways you can get started:
- Be transparent – Bring attention to what’s not working and suggest a new approach. For example: “Hey, I just read this blog that suggests people should discuss how best to act in meetings. Are you open to trying it?”… Or “Have you noticed how we’re on email more and more and meetings take longer? Let’s do something about that.”
- Ask what we should do about it – “How can we work together in meetings to get results more quickly?” People are likely to come up with suggestions like putting phones on mute and not interrupting one another. When the group suggests these behaviours, they’re more likely to follow them, as opposed to being told what to do by a manager or colleague.
- Mention when things get off track – It’s great to discuss how best to act in meetings. But, you’ve got to be willing to comment when people do the opposite. Keep it short, and keep your tone neutral, so the person you’re addressing doesn’t feel put on the spot e.g. “Karen, if you need to take that call, it’s okay if you leave the room.”
If you’re interested in hiring an experienced, dynamic facilitator for your next meeting, please get in touch.