The Coach's Corner: Quick Success Tips from the Carnegie Coach
How to Make the Most of Meetings
- Time is of the Essence
Start your meeting on time regardless of the number of absent members. Don't punish those who arrived on time by waiting for others. Tell latecomers they can get what they missed later. This sets the standard for future meetings and may encourage people to arrive on time more consistently.
- Request the "Honor of Your Presence" with Advanced Notice
When developing a meeting agenda, fill it with exciting action words to make it sound as inviting as possible. Dale Carnegie suggested, "arouse in the other person an eager want." Promise participants change or excitement.
- Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance
In a written format, at least 48 hours in advance, send out an informal agenda with topics, speakers, time constraints, action items, and desired results. Insist that each participant is prepared and has the proper documents and research. This will build momentum toward positive results and keep the meeting's momentum moving forward. If there are topics that require advance research, provide that information with the agenda.
- Go for the Goal
Know what result is desired from the start and communicate it at every opportunity. Guide meeting conversations and discussions toward that conclusion. When meetings within meetings occur, remind participants of the ultimate goal to get things back on track.
- Moving On
Have a list of questions ready to stimulate thought. Remember to keep things moving at a brisk pace. Try incorporating some of these questions:
- How will this happen?
- Where has this worked before?
- Is there any evidence that will verify what has been said?
- How do we start and maintain momentum?
- Will this idea have any constraints?
- Have a Seat, Be Comfortable!
Some say that if a room is cramped and uncomfortable, it will stimulate quick thinking and motivate the attendees to do what they need to do so they can return to the comfort of their desks. The opposite is also true. Some sources suggest setting up fewer chairs than needed. Late arrivals will feel uncomfortable when attempting to squeeze into the group, motivating them to arrive on time in the future. However, this strategy could backfire and cause negative results in some situations. Use proper judgment if exercising this option.
- Try a Stand-Up Routine
Some organizations have meetings where everyone stands up. The idea is that the body and the brain work more effectively from this position. These types of meetings can achieve results quickly because it is easier to think off the top of the head when on the feet.
- Eat – then Meet
If you plan to have food at a meeting, schedule a separate time for eating into the itinerary. If the meeting begins at 8:00 sharp, in the agenda, state that breakfast will be served from 7:30 to 8:00 and that only coffee will be available after 8:00. Hunger can be the reason people show up, but the highlight of the meeting should not be the brand of bagels or the type of doughnuts served; it should be the meeting's results.
- Read the Rules
As the facilitator, another ground rule to cut down on interruptions should be to ensure that voice mail is in operation or that telephone messages will be taken for the participants. We all know the "turn off the cell phone rule." Use it! This will eliminate reasons for anyone to miss one minute of the excitement. Be sure to provide breaks so that participants can check messages -- make sure to mention when the meeting will reconvene and stick to that time.
- There's Always a Next Time
If appropriate, schedule the next meeting before the end of this one so that all involved have the same advance notice to arrange their schedules. Allow enough time for projects and assignments to be completed (if necessary). Make sure that these action and follow-up items are written down, so there is no confusion afterward. Distribute minutes no more than 48 hours after the meeting and reinforce task accountability.