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Blow up Your Bad Meetings

Bad meetings are the No. 1 offender when it comes to squandering face-to-face time that should be energizing.  But what if your employees looked forward to meetings instead of dreading them?  To inspire your employees, start making these changes in the way you hold meetings:

Blow up your weekly meeting.  Call together the attendees to announce the old meeting is not working and you need their help in building a new meeting. Create it as a group project. Have all participants tell the team what they want in the new meeting.

Create real accountability.  Develop a list of meeting agreements and sign off on them as a group. Decide how you want to handle the agenda and follow-up action steps.  Agree to call each other on bad-meeting practices.

Headline up front. As a team, develop the discipline of putting the summary statement of a report up front. Too often, people ramble and fill meeting time with extraneous information.

Have an occasional standing meeting. If your team is on deadline, be flexible. Gather in someone’s office for 15 minutes over coffee. Have everyone give a simple update.

Good Meetings

Limit the attendance at project meetings. Meet with only the six to seven people responsible for the project. You’ll get more done.

Let others drive. Give the wheel to the team members who can steer a meeting, keep an energetic pace, stay on topic and get it done.

Narrow the agenda. Don’t mix long-term and short-term business. When you stray into a discussion of strategic projects during the weekly operations meeting, you lose clarity.

Make it OK for employees to offer different ideas. You may decide to stay the course, but it’s critical for buy-in that people trust one another to say what they think — rather than politely agreeing only to go down the hall and complain.

Be a great meeting participant. Show up on time and come prepared. Take personal responsibility for the success of the meeting. Turn off your cell phone, put away your device and listen.

Acknowledge. Take a moment to debrief. Note accomplishments and learn from mistakes without the shame-and-blame game. Celebrate the wins.  

Lou Solomon

Lou Solomon is the founder of Interact. She is a TEDx speaker and a member of the adjunct faculty at the McColl School of Business at Queens University of Charlotte. Her articles have appeared in Harvard Business Review,,, and Fast Company.