Presentations and meetings are similar in that both mediums are broken. The average presentation is boring, worthless, and a waste of time, and so are most meetings I attend. Before I starting studying effective presenting in 2010, I accepted death-by-PowerPoint as the standard for presentations. Fortunately, I had a wake up call after being introduced to Nancy Duarte and Garr Reynolds. From Duarte and Reynolds, I branched out and began reading books by other people such as Sunni Brown and David Sibbet as well as articles on Forbes and INC, and I had an “ah ha” moment about meetings, too.
Jeff Haden sums up my thoughts perfectly. Haden says, “Information should be shared before the meeting. If I need to make a decision during a meeting, shouldn’t I have the information I need to make that decision ahead of time? Send documents, reports, etc. to participants in advance. Using meetings as a way to share information is unproductive, a waste of time and, well, lazy” (Source). So many meetings devolve into a time to share what we’ve been doing, and during these get-togethers, I can barely keep my eyes open.
I thought long and hard about the meetings I attended on a weekly and monthly basis. Meetings were a constant part of my life – even more so than presentations – since about 2002. I’d attended countless meetings for work and for volunteer organizations, and I realized that most of those meetings were disappointing because they were only about information sharing. And as I transition into a leadership role myself as the Vice President of Marketing and Communications, I realize I don’t want people to dread my meetings. How can I use the meeting medium more effectively?
First, I ordered Bryan Mattimore’s Idea Stormers: How To Lead and Inspire Creative Breakthroughs. The book should arrive this week, and I am excited to read and then review it.
Second, I began researching meetings (again) to collect some ideas on leading effective meetings from experts. One of the resources I found is GoGamestorm, a website that corresponds with Sunni Brown’s Gamestorming book. I began combing through the site to see what kinds of meetings I wanted to hold.
In Fast Company’s “11 Simple Tips for Having Great Meetings,” some of my favorite leaders give advice on how to lead a meeting. Richard Branson says we should keep it novel, and Guy Kawasaki believes we should pretend like we’ve failed.
Third, I considered the purpose of meetings. Simon Sinek teaches us to start with why. So why do I attend meetings? In a world of email, texting, and instant messaging, I can quickly find out information. I don’t go to a meeting for information. I go to a meeting to feel inspired, to collaborate with people, to share ideas, and to move people or to be moved myself. When I compare the purpose of meetings, the “why” is so similar to why we hold and attend presentations. I cannot WAIT to study meetings for the next few months and hold my first official (and hopefully successful) council meeting this summer. I will let you know my first meeting agenda once I read Mattimore’s book and GoGamestorm.
How do you lead effective meetings within your work or volunteer organization? What have other people done to lead a meeting that you considered effective?