10 Tips for Leaders to Make Your Meetings GREAT!

Most of the meetings we attend are not the model for productivity and efficiency. Here’s how to change that.

By Mark Miller, Vice President, Organizational Effectiveness, Chick-fil-A

Meetings matter. If done well, they multiply our time, increase our productivity, tap into the collective wisdom and creativity of the group, yield better decisions and better results.

Let’s face it—most of the meetings we attend are not the model for productivity and efficiency. Done poorly, they are a colossal waste of time. Here are 10 tips to help your team master a few basics for empowering your meetings, starting today.

  1. Invite the right people: Have you ever been frustrated when you were in a meeting and realized you were missing an important perspective? Maybe you didn’t even have the decision-maker in the room. Always ask yourself, “Who needs to be at the next meeting?”
  2. Publish an agenda: Some people will never be able to contribute fully without advance time to prepare. Help them, and the team, by sending out an agenda—in advance.
  3. Distribute pertinent information before the meeting: Don’t expect people to be handed important information in the moment and offer substantive feedback. If something needs to be reviewed or approved during the meeting, send it in advance whenever possible.
  4. Devote 75 percent of every meeting to performance improvement:If you are having a meeting only to “inform” people, there are much more efficient ways to do that. Devote the majority of the time in your meeting to review data, solve problems, think creatively, recognize great work, etc.
  5. Designate a facilitator: A facilitator’s role is to anticipate and remove barriers—before, during, and after the meeting. Be sure someone is assigned to play this critical role.
  6. Designate a time keeper: This doesn’t always have to be a separate person; sometimes a facilitator is comfortable with this added responsibility. Regardless, someone needs to help the group monitor its time.
  7. Document all action items: For some groups, this will be life-changing. Don’t JUST talk about things. At the conclusion of every topic/agenda item, decide who will do what by when . . . and write it down.
  8. Review previous action items at each meeting: If you cultivate the discipline of reviewing the previous Action Items at EVERY meeting, people actually will do what they said they would do. Don’t be afraid to give people the gift of accountability.
  9. Display your work: A flip chart works best. If you display your work, you’ll find that it helps with the creative process, enables the group to stay on task, and helps you reach conclusions on the items you discuss.
  10. Practice the Three Fs: For every item on the agenda, be sure to:
  • Frame it—answer the question: Why are we talking about this and what is our desired outcome?
  • Focus on it—stay on track. Capture other topics that surface for a later discussion.
  • Finish every item—that doesn’t mean complete it necessarily. It does mean that everyone should know what next steps will be taken on the item.

Why not make your meetings GREAT?

Coauthor of “Great Leaders Grow: Becoming a Leader for Life,”Mark Milleris vice president, Organizational Effectiveness, for Chick-fil-A. During his career, he has served in corporate communications, restaurant operations, quality and customer satisfaction, and other leadership positions. He began his Chick-fil-A career in 1977 working as an hourly team member. He is the author of “Great Leaders Grow: Becoming a Leader for Life”and“The Secret of Teams” and the coauthor of “The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do” with Ken Blanchard. For more information, visit http://greatleadersgrow.comand http://greatleadersserve.org.Follow Mark Miller on Facebookand Twitter.

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