When my kids ask what I do for a living, I tell them I help people get along.
And go to a lot of meetings. Unlike lots of folks, I actually like meetings (partly because they're always in someone else's workplace!). I find the dynamics fascinating. Edgar Schein, a pioneering voice in studies of organizational culture, says that if you want to understand a particular organizational culture, go to a meeting. Does the meeting start on time? Who talks first? Does it seem like people want to be there? Are people making decisions together or staring at a powerpoint presentation, eyes half-closed?
I'm going to do a little series here on effective and engaging meetings--a few observations and tips that might help you in whatever meeting you're dreading at the moment.
Here's some basics:
- Meetings are inherently social. A presentation does not equal a meeting! Presentations can certainly be part of a meeting, but don't call everyone together unless you plan to engage them.
- Workplace meetings should have a facilitator. A facilitator is someone who "makes things happen with ease." They're not necessarily the content expert or the person with authority. They're the one who watches out for process.
- Have a plan. Meetings without agendas can be a scary waste of time. You can even build your agenda together at the start of a meeting.
- A participatory, well-run meeting is almost always worth the work. I've had lots of chances to collaborate lately, and am always pleased that what we come up with together is so much better than what I would have done on my own.
What tips do you have for effective and engaging meetings?