More Meetings

5 Tips for Better Meetings (and more)

...because your time is valuable and should be respected

One of our customers (a technology company) embraces rapid change as a constant.  Living life in a blur can be exhilarating at times; exhausting at others.

Technology is great.  And sometimes not.  It has trapped us in ways we rarely think about.  Why don’t we think about it?

We strive for every one of our customers to experience a transformation.  One of our methods for helping them is as ancient as the human race... focus.  We take their phones away.

Around our campfire we ask, "If you’re in meetings all day, when does the real work get done?"  Their answers… on weekends… after hours.  Never untethered.  Willingly giving up their life with interruptions any time.  I was guilty of the same thing early in my career.  Makes sense if you want to die young, accomplish little, and grow to hate your job.


Meetings need a strategic overhaul for 2 critical reasons:

  1. the amount of time they waste; and,
  2. the poor work and communication habits reinforced

We suggest...

FOCUS = allow no digital devices to distract participants

LIST = require an advance agenda with:  topic / owner / duration / reference material

ACT = make at least one decision (more as appropriate), and record the who, what, when, and why for each.

NOTE = notate all proceedings and share openly.  Maintain policy that nothing is off the record.  Unspoken items do not exist (passive aggressives hate this).  Good... engage or ignore.  Notes should be taken by hand to improve retention.  They should scanned and distributed immediately after the meeting.

TIME = limit all but the most strategic / special meetings to 30 minutes.

Until everyone gets on board, it’s a good idea to ask some “wake up” questions.  One of my favorite is to randomly pick someone what’s on the agenda.  Have they read it?  Have they thought about it?  Shouldn’t they show up with action-ready items for THIS discussion?

Process this thought... in your meetings today, what do you think is more valuable, the things said in your meetings, or those things unsaid?  If you enforce these rules, everything in the meeting becomes important, and the items unsaid become irrelevant.  Hmmm.

The public shame (yes, I said that) of showing up unprepared is a motivator for focus on the needs of the business, and a barrier to personal grievance.  It can, over time, reduce the number of useless meetings held.

Meeting time is not therapy, unless that’s the subject of the meeting.  It is the valued contribution of your people.

Come prepared.  Respect all.

One of our customers left camp with a counter-meeting productivity idea we like to share called “Focus Fridays”.

  • NO scheduled meetings permitted
  • Maximum of 1 hour of email + texts
  • Rest of the day… get things done

Their results:  (a) Team stress down; (b) Accomplishments up; (c) Happier humans.

They felt liberated, as if from an addiction.  Most people have never thought of this idea.

Maybe, the next time you’re in a meeting without an agenda… you'll demand one.  And, if there’s no action or decision made during the meeting… you'll make one.



I have asked numerous executives this simple question, "In crucial meetings with your team, is everyone at the table openly contributing everything they have... without reservation?”

The answer has been a universal NO.

Millions of dollars of payroll at the table, and they can't get their top executives to fully engage?  Could you imagine if an NFL team lined up at the line of scrimmage, and only half of the offensive line gave 100%?  What about a military unit on a mission?

Why do you accept that?  Who wants to live and work that way?


High Trust is the only solution.

The hardest thing for anyone to admit... is a problem, particularly if they have NO idea how to solve it.

There's only one condition under which a talented team is going to contribute everything to the shared success of the group... when they have high trust.

The ROI for high trust organizations should be obvious, but in case you didn't get the memo:

  • 50% higher productivity
  • 74% lower stress
  • 76% more engagement
  • 106% more energy
  • 29% more satisfaction

It should be easy, right?  They’re all accomplished.  You selected most of them for goodness sake.

What on earth makes you think it should be easy to achieve high trust?

The best organization for building trust in the world, operates under the most consequential (and most say VUCA) conditions, is... the US Special Forces.

And the US Special Forces did NOT get bonded through a:

  • coaching session (if I tell you... you will forget)
  • seminar in trust building (sit and listen and... poof)
  • speech by retired SEALs (no matter how gonzo cool)
  • tour of Arlington National Cemetery (amazingly humbling place, though)
  • round of golf (that new PXG driver was pretty wicked), or
  • beautiful destination retreat with sunset cocktails (good time, for sure... no ROI)

NO, the US Special Forces earned it... through deep personal connections forged through:

  • joint challenges
  • demonstrated courage
  • solving complex problems
  • dealing with unknowns
  • a commitment to hard work (you may have this one down)

100% together

That's EXPERIENTIAL unit development.

The only classroom for real experiential development is... outside.  The only methodology for experiential is... action.  The only program (other than the US Military) for doing this is... Experiential Leader.


(and more)

Ready to attain high trust?  For your next:

  • annual retreat
  • corporate offsite
  • strategic planning event

Learn to bond like a unit, ready to face anything.  End the Meeting BS.


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