One of the fastest hacks for effective leadership is to make your meetings better. All of them.
Do you love meetings?
If the answer is yes, then I imagine you have extrovert tendencies and you love other social situations too. You are probably great fun to be around 🕺💃
If the answer is no, then you're in the majority. Extrovert or not, it's normal to dislike meetings.
Why? Because most meetings are terrible!
There are many reasons why this is so (I have written essays on this subject), but one of them is easily fixed. By anyone. Immediately.
Change the format of the meeting!
Have you ever wondered why meetings are run the way they are? Why do they have to have:
The answer is that most meetings don't need these artefacts. We use them out of habit.
So, why not have some fun with it, try something different? Here are a couple of my favourite ways to shake it up.
Speaking In Rounds - For Better Conversations
Speaking in rounds simply means taking turns to speak.
Most meetings can benefit from this technique as it avoids some of the problems with traditional meetings where most of the activity of the meeting is conducted by the most outgoing people and/or defers to the HiPPO (Highest Paid Person's Opinion).
Wouldn't it be better if everyone had an equal chance to speak? Even the introverts.
Start with a check-in round where everyone takes turns to answer a general question like:
What's your favourite film?
What's the most beautiful place you've visited?
Then, ask a question or introduce a topic:
What's the most important thing for us to discuss today?
What ideas do we have for the new business plan?
Next invite everyone to take turns to say what they think without interruption. Ideally you do this sat in a circle, but it works on Zoom too (just use the attendee list as a random order generator).
This works by giving the floor to everyone equally. Crucially it also creates a space for everyone else to really listen. A space that the muses can work in.
If you are facilitating:
Explain the process at the start. This will probably be new to most people, so encourage them to give it a try. Tell them you got the idea off a brilliant coach on the Internet 😎
Don't let people interrupt. If they want to respond to a point, they have to wait their turn. Some people find this hard, so be kind but remind them if they try to jump in.
Judge when the conversation is exhausted. You can go round the circle more than once if people still have things to say.
Summarise the key points you've heard.
What you'll find is that you have a much richer conversation than you would have had any other way.
1:2:4:8:All - For Getting Agreement
One of the most frustrating types of meetings are the ones where you talk and talk but fail to reach agreement. In this case, the 1:2:4:8:All technique can be magical. It works with groups of up to 30 people.
First you need to know what you need to agree. Ideally this would be something with no more than three to four options. For example:
top three priorities
three biggest risks
best ideas for innovation.
Then the process goes like this:
Ask everyone to start in silence. Give them a few minutes to think of their top 3 things.
Ask everyone to pair up with a colleague. Ask them to compare their 6 ideas and narrow them down to 3 that they agree on.
Once they have done that, ask the groups of 2 to form groups of 4. And repeat the process of combining 6 ideas into 3.
Repeat the process with groups of 8.
Then each group reads out their 3 ideas to the room. Typically, they are almost always a match, but if not, facilitate a discussion to reduce them down.
This works by structuring agreement and allowing everyone an equal say. Once you agree the final 3 things (or 4 or 5 if you prefer) everyone feels that they contributed. Because they did.
This means that you have a decision you can walk about of the room with, but, more importantly you have a decision that everyone is committed to.
Which makes it more likely that you'll actually do the things you agreed 🎉.
⚡ But beware, there's one downside to both these techniques: once you've made your meetings this good, your colleagues will want you to organise all of them 😆