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Internal Business Meetings Suck. They’re boring. They take a long time. They’re not fun. Nothing gets done.

If you feel that way you’re doing it wrong.  Some tips to avoid death by meeting and running better, more effective meetings.

  1. Promptness – Close the door and start on time. Do something fun, share something interesting, make the beginning of the meeting something that can’t be missed. Latecomers don’t get to participate in the fun.  If you wait for latecomers, your meetings will never start on time. If during breaks, someone is late, make them do something uncomfortable in front of the group, like sing a song.
  2. Encourage Debate – Get active participation. Don’t allow wallflowers to hide. Set designated time limits on debate. Something like, “Okay everyone, tell me how we can do this better, you have 10 minutes. If everyone agrees it’s either because you’re doing everything right (hint, you’re not), or people don’t care enough to play (That’s on you. Wrong topic or wrong people?), or they don’t trust each other so they won’t take the risk of speaking up.
  3. Keep It Short – Unless it’s an all-day off-site, keep meetings to no more than an hour. Set an end time and end on time. You’ll be surprised how punctuality and attention to time limits keep things moving, keeps people brief.
  4. Stay on topic – Create a “Parking Space,” on a whiteboard or flip chart where you can write down important topics that come up in the meeting but are either off-topic for this meeting or will take too long to flush out. Use the “Parking Space” to create agenda items for upcoming meetings or address them offline.
  5. Strategy vs Tactics – Don’t mix strategy and tactics. Meetings work better when they’re high level or tactical so declare your meeting type and keep people on the right level. Strategic meetings are about Why’s and Defining Whats and Tactical meetings are all about the Hows. Whats and Tactical meetings are all about the Hows.
  6. Monitor And Inject Energy – Keep an eye out for lagging energy or better yet, assign a Secretary of Energy to monitor the energy level in the room and come up with quick exercises (jumping jacks, changing seats, arm rotations, etc.) to wake folks up.

As a peer group facilitator, I run monthly meetings of CEOs. I do what I can to ensure that there is no death by meeting fatalities in my groups. If you do meetings right, they can create instead of suck energy and your team will actually look forward to them. If you’d like to join a group of people who run businesses in our monthly meetings and see what a meeting that doesn’t suck… too much. If you’d see how to spice up your meetings with a professional facilitator, press that button down there and schedule a meeting!