Editor's Blog


Meetings 101...Love them?...Hate them?

January 24, 2010
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Most of us hate meetings! We’re way too busy to stop and meet. Besides, most meetings end up like the meetings we have at our house of worship or our local town board. Someone starts talking and the rest of us start snoozing.

Once in awhile, there’s actually something worth talking about at these types of meetings. No matter. They just become an excuse to meet, have donuts, coffee and to setup another meeting to cover the same stuff that the people at the meetings were too gutless to address.

No wonder you hate meetings!

But I’m not referring to lousy meetings. I’m referring to the type of meeting I teach my clients to run. These are the types of meetings that actually get results. And good results are rarely by accident.

The first thing to do is learn the meeting basics or what I call “Meetings 101.” Clients find the following steps indispensable when getting this habit in place:

 Here’s what you must do:
    1. Figure out who must attend.
    2. Usually try to limit the number of people to 15.
    3. Ask yourself, “How can I give them a good WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) for attending?”
    4. Have only 3 main points you want to cover.
    5. Cover the 3 main points.
    6. Recap what you want them to walk away with... and that’s the 3 main points.


Here’s what sabotages you and how to fix it:

1. Sabotage: You invite too many people because it’s politically correct and you don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings.
Fix: Get over hurting people’s feelings and only have the right people involved with the right meeting.

2. Sabotage: You have more than 15 people if you’re a big company and unless you’re a spectacular speaker with years of training you can’t possibly hold their interest or make them feel it pertains to them personally.
Fix: Have multiple meetings if need be...I did.

3. Sabotage: You have no agenda, so you ramble.
Fix: Have a written agenda completed a minimum of 24 hours before and don’t change it after that. If you want attendee input, give them a copy of the agenda at least 24 hours ahead of the meeting so they can prepare. And keep the agenda to the 3 main points.

4. Sabotage: You try to cover too much or too many different subjects.
Fix: Have regularly scheduled frequent meetings with shorter agendas to have better results.

5. Sabotage: You have no start time or you don’t start on time. Waiting only punishes those who did show up on time.
Fix: The agenda must have the start time and you must honor it. Kick the door closed and don’t let the stragglers in. They’ll know soon enough you mean business. A trick is to pick a weird start time like 7:59 a.m. vs. 8:00 a.m.

6. Sabotage: You have no end time or have one but don’t honor it. It’s a big sin in the business of meetings. Whatever you’re talking about, stop on time and make the next meeting pick it up from wherever you left off.
  Fix: The mind can only absorb what the seat can endure. Keep it short and meet frequently. Also, if you go over, it shows you’re undisciplined and unorganized.

7. Sabotage: There’s no WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) so why should they care?
Fix: Sit in their chair literally. Look up at the head of the table or the podium and ask yourself, “If I was them, why should I care?” If you can’t answer that, either they don’t belong at the meeting or you need more prep work.

8. Sabotage: There’s no scheduled follow-up meeting based upon what was discussed and the to-do list with deadlines.
Fix: You must be taking notes, creating to-dos, assigning them along with due dates or this meeting is going nowhere. If you’re too busy to take notes, assign someone else attending to do it.

If you want more on how to run effective meetings, please e-mail me at al@appleseedbusiness.com, and let me know you read this and would like the 10 Golden Rules for Meetings.

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