Are Your Meetings Really Worth It?
A few years back my wife and I attended a meeting at our son’s daycare. It was to discuss transition in ownership and to answer question parents might have. It was a total waste of time.
We left so frustrated that we ended up finding a new daycare provider. What went wrong? The same thing that occurs with thousands of meetings. The people who had put it together didn’t take into consideration the sacrifice of the attendees. Every meeting, even if it’s mandatory, has to take into consideration the:
1. Travel Your Attendees Endure
Your meeting might only be an hour, but you have to take into consideration that people are traveling from somewhere like work or home. That means they are giving up time to get to your meeting.
If they are stuck in traffic they are probably wondering, “Is this worth the headache?”
2. Time of Day They Need to Attend
Is it right before or after dinner? Are they trying to squeeze in the meeting before work? What’s their energy level looking like? You need to know that when your meeting is will be impacted by mood, etc.
3. Financial Costs They Might Need to Face
Believe it or not your meetings could cost people money that might not be a part of their financial budget. If:
- They are a parent they might need to pay for babysitters.
- They are coming straight from work they might need to stop and buy dinner.
It might not affect everyone, but it does have a big enough impact on some of your people.
To ease the burden of these sacrifices, change the way you prepare your meetings and make sure you:
1. Greet People at the Door
Get together a team of people who will greet your attendees at the door. Having a friendly face will diffuse any tension they might have built up (i.e., traffic) on the way there.
2. Start on Time
Even if people are missing you should start on time.
- FIRST, you are rewarding people who showed up on time.
- SECOND, you need to create a culture of starting on time.
If you start late, people will assume that you either don’t take their time seriously or that they can show up whenever they want.
3. Create Social Interaction
Meetings will be memorable if people feel like they got to know someone. Make sure a good portion of your meeting involves some kind of community building.
- LARGE MEETINGS (i.e., parents meeting): Provide an icebreaker question and have people split up into groups. A little later on ask the same groups a deeper question that will help them process the information you’ve given them in your presentation.
- SMALL MEETINGS (i.e., your core team): Start each meeting where the team shares something about themselves. Start out with something simple like their favorite movie, and over time, as trust builds, go deeper.
The more people get to know one another the more at ease they’ll be at your meeting. They’ll connect with others and look forward to seeing them at your next gathering.
4. Reward Them for Their Sacrifice
Again, it’s important to remember the sacrifice that people are making to come to your meetings. Reward them by helping them with that sacrifice. That could be:
- Offering free babysitting at the church.
- Providing food.
- Ending a little earlier than scheduled.
Even if your gesture is small it acknowledges the sacrifice they’ve made, and that’ll have a big impact on your participants.
Your meeting can be something memorable, informative and helpful. Just put in a little more effort into your preparation because the payoff is worth it.