Four Ways to Infuse Energy into Your Meetings

AdVance Leadership » Four Ways to Infuse Energy into Your Meetings

Welcome to Friday 411, issue #068. In 4 minutes, with 1 insight and 1 action, you’ll lead engaging meetings that people look forward to.

1 Insight

Most meetings feel like a waste of time. But small tweaks can make your meetings energizing and productive.

We need a meeting. This is one of the most dreaded phrases in corporate life.
Meetings suck. They suck away your time and energy. They suck away precious organizational resources, like money. (Use this calculator to find out how expensive your meetings are). Meetings feel like they suck the life and soul right out of you.

Four Tweaks to Meetings

But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, we’ve found that meetings can be some of the most invigorating experiences in a company. By making four small tweaks to your meetings, you can infuse them with energy and use them to build momentum toward organizational goals.

1. Give every meeting a specific function.

Meetings have different functions. The purpose of a meeting can be:

  • Review: looking back over a period of time and learning from successes and failures.
  • Preview: looking ahead to brainstorm and determine the priorities and objectives.
  • Strategic: formulating a strategy to either (1) address specific challenges or (2) take steps toward priorities.
  • Tactical: breaking down your strategy into goals, projects, tasks, and deadlines.

Most meetings alternate back and forth between these different functions. This is a form of “context switching,” which forces your brain to jump around. Your brain quickly becomes fatigued, leading to higher levels of stress and frustration.
Instead of multi-functional meetings, each meeting should have one function. For example, you could have a Strategic meeting every month that identifies the biggest challenges your business is facing and how to handle them. You also might need a Tactical Meeting every week to determine what actions you need to take this week to move the Strategy forward. When you schedule a meeting, communicate its primary function to your team. One-function meetings also provide clarity around who should attend and prevent unnecessary participants.

2. Focus on Decisions and Actions

Leaders often use meetings as a platform for making announcements. This is a huge mistake! Eliminate all forms of “information-only” meetings unless the meeting is highly emotional (e.g. a beloved team member is leaving).
Use other forms of communication like emails or videos to replace information-only meetings.
Instead of information, meetings should focus on decisions and actions.

  • Making Decisions. Think through the key decisions you need to make to move the business forward or solve your biggest challenges. When you focus on decisions, you’ll engage the whole team in dialogue. This practice keeps meetings interesting.
  • Determining Actions. Every decision you make will eventually lead to actions that need to be done. Use meetings to identify who needs to do what by when. This practice makes meetings productive.


3. Use Meetings to Keep the BHAG in front of everyone.

As we’ve pointed out in several previous posts, we believe in the power Jim Collins’ Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (BHAG). Too often, organizations identify a BHAG then forget about it.
Instead, use meetings to systematically drive your BHAG. Remind people of the BHAG. Discuss the strategies and tactics to move the BHAG forward. Think through key decisions that will influence the BHAG.
When you remind people of the BHAG in meetings, you link everyday actions to the big goals of your company.

4. Develop outcomes, not agendas.

The prevailing wisdom of the day says that every meeting should have an agenda. We disagree.
One of the reasons that people feel like meetings are a waste of time is that they don’t accomplish anything. Agendas are like having a GPS suggest a route without a destination.
Instead of creating an agenda, develop the outcomes that need to be accomplished for the meeting to be a success.
Your next meeting may look something like this: “Hey, Team. This meeting will be a success if we (1) Identify our top 3 priorities for the next month; (2) Determine who owns each of those priorities; (3) Identify the next actions we need to take for each priority and who is responsible for those.”

How to Lead an Energizing Meeting

After making these four tweaks, follow these five steps to lead a vitalizing meeting:

  1. Before every meeting, determine its function and answer the question: This meeting will be successful if we…(fill in the blank with three or fewer outcomes.)
  2. Restate the function and share the outcomes at the beginning of the meeting.
  3. As the meeting’s facilitator, keep the group focused on accomplishing the outcomes.
  4. Set a hard stop for the end of the meeting so that the team knows the time for reaching the outcomes is limited. Otherwise, participants will feel free to swirl in endless discussion.
  5. At the end of the meeting, review the outcomes and ask everyone if you accomplished them.

As a leader, meetings can be one of your most powerful tools to generate energy and momentum within your organization.

1 Action

Pick one meeting this week that you’re leading. Spend five minutes identifying its function and the outcomes you want to achieve in it.


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