The Antithesis to Worthless Meetings – Dual Purposed Meetings


boringSo, you just started your meeting and all your getting back is glazed over half-baked faces of total boredom and zero engagement. You’re thinking, “Are they awake?” Your attendees are thinking of slamming their faces into the table just to end the suffering.

I’m not going to bore you with how to run an effective meeting. Instead let’s leap frog the obvious.

At Thought Ensemble we typically use workshops to effectively utilize time onsite with our clients. Our agendas are slammed with purposeful time, so much so that we consider it a challenge to attain all our objectives while onsite. Rarely do we succeed.

The beginning is critical. This is when you clear the path and focus the audience on the objectives at hand. A sort of entrapment, but for a righteous cause. However, the dual purpose is to also immediately start providing value and therefore set the same expectation for the remainder of your time.

There are many ways to provide immediate value, but the most useful are those that are timely and relevant to the audience. We know of these additional needs for our longstanding clients, but for new clients we seek supplemental objectives from our project sponsor or stakeholders.

To Build Trust Among Attendees…
Use a psychology model that tears down communication barriers and encourages attendees to think of others rather than just themselves. David W. Merrill’s Personal Style & Effective Performance model is a great tool that can be quickly assessed. Also, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator model is good, but will require some prep work prior to the meeting in order to allow you to review the results during the meeting.

To Build Trust in Leadership…
Prepare a leader to give a speech at the beginning followed by engaging questions paired with honest and insightful answers. Keep the speech short and to the point. If you’re brave, have the leader speak on a touchy or politically sensitive subject. Humility, among many other leadership traits, is crucial here.

To Raise Awareness or Escalate Risks and Issues…
Engage attendees with questions, such as, “What is keeping you awake at night?” Or, “What risks or issues are you encountering that are weighing on you?” This gives attendees the opportunity to share their concerns with everyone and at the very least be heard.

To Rally Attendees for the Same Cause…
Present a current problem, set some brainstorming guidelines such as no positive or negative criticism and ask attendees to present possible solutions. Lead the brainstorming session in a manner in which you end with multiple viable solutions for leadership’s further consideration.

To Inspire a State of Mind…
Use speeches (motivational, heavy hearted, etc.) or leading rhetorical questions to drastically alter the attendees’ current thoughts and mood. This can also be a good way to get people thinking about something familiar to them from a different angle or in a new way.

If after reading this you think it odd to begin your next meeting with such dual purpose, know you are not alone. I too was reluctant to take the leap. It takes courage and skill, but if successful, presents surprisingly great rewards. You’ll see, and when you do, let me know how it went.