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Updated: Jul 10, 2018

• Stop wasting time. It's time to lead. •

Within companies worlwide, we spend a significant amount of time in ‘meetings’. Especially leaders out there are having a great coffee time.

Why do we dedicate so much work time to seeing each other?

Besides the fact it can actually be fun to see each other, a huge percentage of our meetings is ineffective and therefore very lengthy. Result: you see each other, but most things remain unsaid and outcomes lack effectiveness.

To realize better meeting results and create more time for other crucial tasks at work, there are four crucial questions you should ask yourself organizing a meeting:

What meeting results are we looking for?

Brand new ideas? Or do you want to know the project's status? Do you want to tackle any problems? Or get insights in potential improvements? Set up a game plan? By defining the main result you are looking for upfront, you will notice the ‘type of meeting’ you are going to lead will be very clear. Write down your desired meeting result.

What is needed to achieve these meeting results?

PEOPLE | If you want to know the status of the project, you need to ask the right person. The doorman will not know what you are working on. To tackle any problems, make sure you invite all related parties. There’s no way you’ll solve a problem permanently by leaving one of the stings out. Dismantle! When you're up for a brainstorm, make sure you invite the people actually dealing with the process to be improved. Define the group of people to invite. AGENDA | Using an agenda makes clear what a meeting is all about. It connects people to the final result and increases efficiency and participation. Make sure you use the desired result as a agenda title and add all factors influencing this result. This is being a vivacious leader, foreseeing all necessary steps to take. Set up a meeting agenda, and make the story-line flow like a great novel. INGREDIENTS | To get to new ideas, you need to create the place to get them out. We use the Brainstorm Box to realize great brainstorms, but there are many ways to inspire your team. To solve problems, make sure you gather the right facts(!) and prepare this documentation so you will be able to iron out these hurdles.

Potential improvements go even further: send your team members an inspiring email with one main question the day before the meeting. This makes sure the thinking starts ahead of your meeting and everyone will bring some good vibes to the table. Prepare the essential success ingredients for each bulletpoint of your agenda.

Achieve great meeting results: gather the essential people, who connect through an awesome meeting agenda and prepare the essential ingredients to make this meeting work.

How do I get all of my team's talents on the table?

As a team leader, you are the one responsible to make your team blossom. Organizing this meeting, makes you the leader of this talk, not the participant. Focus on leading this meeting towards the needed result, this is your one and only task.

If you are needed as participant, make sure you announce someone else as a great meeting facilitator. Keep responsibilities clear and get ready for some action! Before the meeting there’s already a clear goal communicated via the agenda and the right ingredients are there. After welcoming your knights around the round table, repeat the goal of the meeting and start checking off the agenda. If someone gets off topic, it is YOUR responsibility to keep the meeting result on track. It is all about effective questions at this point. Everyone should be able to share his/her knowledge and be listened to. Make sure you balance the input and get every team member a vital place in the meeting. Ask, listen and learn, may be the credo. Use open questions (starting with How or What) if you want to increase creative thinking and participation. Use closed questions (only answer possible: yes or no) when you want to seal responsibilities/confirmations. Don’t hesitate to end the meeting if all topics are discussed. “Thank you for all of your input today, you guys made our meeting very effective. Time to continue our growth outside this room.” Coffee can be spilled somewhere else, not on your effective meetings.

How do I sustain this effectiveness?

TO DO LISTS | However, an effective meeting never stops by exiting the room. Make sure everyone leaves with a very clear to do list. No fuzz who is doing what or when. This great thing is happening, by you and before next week. If in use, use your task management app to seal the deal and keep the overview. CULTURE | This overview is great to keep everyone connected. Make this meeting part of your company structure by implementing it on a consistent base. It changes (work)lives. Talk to your team today and tell them you want to stop wasting their time with ineffective meetings. From now on, you will work with more focus (on result, agenda and talents) and you hope they’ll join on this journey. To make this work, you invite them to leave feedback after every session, to keep improving all of your team meeting skills. Open, effective meetings, in which everyone has a saying. Oh joy! There’s a lot of literature and knowledge available at The Vivacious to improve your facilitator skills in even more detail. What to say when things go off topic? How to free one's talents? How do I get a brainstorm on fire?

If you’re interested in the next level leadership during meetings, please let us know, so we can shoot you more tips and tricks, adjusted to your personal needs. If you're looking for a guideline, as a gentle reminder how to run an effective meeting, check out our Vivacious Meeting Worksheet.