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The secret ingredient that ends boring meetings forever.
July 06, 2011

Hello and welcome to this week's short time management tip.

It will take you only 72 seconds to read this time management article. Here is your time management tip for this week.

Time Management Tip

Drama creates effective meetings that your team will actually want to come to!

Drama, in our opinion, is the biggest factor missing from meetings and often communication in general. Almost always the status quo is maintained. The group chooses to avoid conflict and so meetings are boring!

In our last newsletter we introduced you to Patrick Lencioni's book Death by Meeting. Lencioni, much to my surprise (and to the surprise of his own friends) suggests that more meetings rather than less are what we need. He says that context and drama are required for productive meetings.

And most meetings lack both context and drama!

Here is a quick review on context. A meeting is either an update, tactical or strategic. Depending on your context you have different structures for your meetings.

Updates are short and about communication. Hold the meeting standing up. Five minutes for five people, one minute each to communicate the two or three important tasks they are focusing on today and what (if any) help they need from the others. That's it.

Tactical meetings (usually weekly) are to discuss and create actions for current topics, issues and operations. Communicate your KPI scoreboard. Get on top of and/or fix what's happening now.

Strategic Meetings (monthly, adhoc and quarterly) are when you step back and look at the bigger picture. Review, brainstorm, dream for the future and create strategic plans. NO day-to-day stuff. OK, now that is clear. Let's go back to drama.

Drama is what stops meetings from being boring.

And when meetings are more interesting, even exciting, people get more involved. More involvement means more ideas, discussions and improved engagement. High engagement has been shown to improve productivity and profit.

So why doesn't everyone bring some drama into their meetings?

Because, drama involves uncertainty, it involves possible conflict and definitely differences of opinion. It involves emotional expression. And for most managers that's too hard.

It's easier to keep the meetings boring and keep the output to a low, but consistently predictable level. For most their internal anxiety thermometer goes way up when they think about running a meeting where people strongly disagree and want to talk about the differences of opinion. Yet this is exactly the 'Gold' that takes meetings from boring to brilliant and creates enormous increases in effectiveness.

How do you create this drama?

Firstly you set the framework up front. The meeting participants need to know that they have permission, even encouragement to get into conflict. You want to hear different points of view and the argument that goes with them - like a full-on debate. Everyone at the meeting agrees to, and understands that there will be conflicting arguments discussed -- and that's OK.

The framework also includes an agreement that a unified decision and direction will be made at the end of the meeting. EVERYONE will support and follow the decision 100% regardless of their point of view during the discussion. Again this is agreed to up-front when setting the framework.

Next you introduce the hook. Start the meeting by throwing out a hook. Jolt them. Emphasize the huge importance or potential disaster of the topic. The aim is to get them interested and/or personally connected to what is being discussed.

As the discussion starts you mine for conflict. You look for tone and body language that indicates disagreement or uncertainty and you ask the person to say what they are thinking and feeling. Prompt people to take a view opposite to one that has just been communicated.

A valuable tip for managers in these situations is to reinforce the agreed permission in 'real time'. So when someone starts communicating an opposing view or challenges someone you can interrupt and reinforce that this is good and this is what your are looking for in these meetings. Real time positive feedback has a huge impact on increasing the behavior that gets positive recognition.

Wrap up the meeting by summarizing how you saw things and that you, as the manager, need to make a decision about what to do. Make that decision and confirm, as per the framework, that everyone will follow and support the decision 100%.

Turn your team and your organization in to highly productive peak performers through effective meetings, rather than having boring meetings that drag your team down!

Let me know how you put drama into your meetings.

Have the time of your life this week.

Michael

Michael Erwin http://www.time-management-central.net

Get the #1 Secret to Cut 6.5hrs Off Your Work Week and Get a Pay Rise at the Same Time!

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