Meetings. We all schedule them, and we all attend them. But do we want to go to them? There is no better way to communicate and strategize over ideas, results, and direction. Have you ever had a meeting that was particularly memorable — good, or bad? In this week’s episode, I’m sharing insight into how to create a positive meeting. We can improve meetings so that people actually look forward to being there and sharing information.
How to Create a Positive Meeting
To share with you how to create a positive meeting that people actually can look forward to, let’s go back to an experience of mine. Before we sold the family business, which was a privately held convention center, the Board used to attend regularly scheduled meetings with the management team. These meetings were structured and formal. As a result, both management and the Board didn’t always exchange and share information openly.
These meetings were still an environment of cautious optimism, guarded body language, deliberate responses that didn’t stray too far from the script. There was always great coffee and amazing cookies, which is funny because it didn’t make it any more comfortable for the group to speak candidly.
So how do we avoid this? How do we create a positive meeting?
First off, what makes a good meeting?
At the real estate brokerage – where I appraised and sold dental practices – they have sales meetings once a month. These meetings functioned as a way for the team to get together and brainstorm about challenges in deals, the competitive landscape, upcoming industry events, and new marketing initiatives to get new business. It was an open forum for questions, discussion, and honest feedback. No fancy coffee, no donuts, sometimes a guest speaker and always takeaways for improvement.
There was no pressure to have the right answer, just a sincere, honest conversation. These meetings were productive, effective, and well attended because they provided an opportunity to access support and resources.
But on a deeper level, management at the real estate brokerage set the tone for these meetings by tapping into two key areas by creating space for permission to say or ask anything and a sense of safety to speak your mind.
2 Key factors to Create a Positive Meeting
1. Creating Permission
Permission is about giving your team the freedom to share their unedited thoughts. It’s a chance for everyone to be heard and an opportunity to listen to what others are thinking. Permission works both ways.
As a leader, what permission would you like from the group so you can be more effective? Likewise, what permission does the group need from you to contribute successfully? If you’re looking to achieve a level of candor that’s been missing, to create a positive meeting. Here are some helpful rules you can encourage.
Anyone can ask a question at any time
Invite people into the conversation if they haven’t participated
Allow for extra time on an issue that warrants further discussion
If certain people are dominating, hold them back from the conversation
Lead the conversation away from repetition
Encourage and ask questions
The point here is that the leader and the team have a say in how to participate effectively in a meeting so there’s a beneficial exchange of useful information that can drive results.
2. Creating A Safe Space
At one time or another, many of us have experienced situations where we felt our contribution to the discussion wasn’t appreciated. So in a group setting, where some individuals are uncomfortable speaking up, it’s essential to establish an environment that emphasizes respect along with an understanding that all comments, questions, and thoughts will be heard and listened to. To create an environment where people feel free to speak their mind without anxiety, consider these suggestions:
Ask people to devote their full attention to each person that has the floor
Each person should have time to complete their thought
Share what’s valuable about someone’s question or comment
Ask follow-up questions
Summarize key points as the meeting draws to a close
Highlight any action steps that will follow from this meeting and invite input from the group
Meetings are a window into the pulse of an organization. It is possible to create a positive meeting that people actually look forward to! Is communication stifled in meetings, or is the free flow of information encouraged? Creating space for permission and safety so people can speak candidly not only gives people a sense of belonging, but the confidence to contribute and work together more cohesively.
Have you had experience with difficult meetings? Can you see how the above factors could help create a positive meeting? I’d love to hear what you have learned.
Have you found this article helpful? Share it with a friend and comment below what other topics you would like me to address.
You might also enjoy reading 3 Reasons Why We Don’t Speak Up.
Your Next Steps:
Follow Jackie for free tips, tactics, and strategies she shares throughout the week on social media.
Email Jackie: Helpdesk@jackiefcoaching.com