Good Stuff! How to Make Meetings Work

Do you regularly sit through meetings that seem to accomplish nothing?

Meetings where people drone on and on and on.

Meetings where people discuss and no decision is ever made.

Meetings that always slide off topic.

Meetings that should never have been held in the first place.

In many cases, the reason these meetings stink is because those organizing them are not aware there’s any other way to hold a meeting. But there is. I was fortunate enough to have been exposed to it just out of college while working for a business consulting firm in San Francisco. (And why they didn’t teach this in my business degree I will never know!)

After learning the simple and powerful principles, I was eventually paid to plan and facilitate meetings for clients. In some of these meetings they were making incredibly important decisions. I remember a client flying me and a colleague from San Francisco to Delaware for two days of meetings.

You might be groaning at the thought. But they paid thousands of dollars to have us come and facilitate. And when we were done, the energy in the room was palpable. A number of those that were involved were astounded and said they’d never been involved in such productive sessions. They’d accomplished more in the hours we were there than in months of other meetings. They were happy and grateful we’d come.

Think of that—happy and grateful for a meeting that went on for hours!

When meetings are done right, the collaboration and synergy can be amazing. Now, you may think that some secret handshake is required to learn how to do this. Or that it’s only for those with some special knack. Or that it’s only for high-powered jobs. If you do, you’d be wrong.

And that’s because you can learn the principles all for a few bucks. They’re laid out in perfect clarity in How to Make Meetings Work by Michael Doyle and David Straus. This is the book that was the source of our training sessions all those years ago. And I reread it every few years to brush up. The principles work in everything from a family council to a board meeting to class settings. I know because I’ve used the ideas in all of them. And when I fail to take just a few minutes to prepare, that’s when the meeting becomes, well, just another (yawn) meeting.

If you hold meetings of any kind and want to improve them, give this book a try. I think you’ll be happy you did.

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