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A 7-Point Checklist for a Good Meeting

A 7-Point Checklist for a Good Meeting
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    Dan Reiland
It’s not difficult to know when you just left a good meeting or a bad one. Some meetings leave you motivated and feeling a sense of accomplishment. Other meetings leave you frustrated and feeling like you just wasted your time. If you are a leader, you set meetings. You manage meetings, and pay attention to the results. Have you ever considered if people like coming to your meetings? How effective are they? If you weren’t in charge, would you want to attend your own meeting? Here are seven ways to know if your meeting was effective:

The agenda was clear.

First, as I wrote about in a previous post, let’s assume that you had the right people in the room. It’s difficult to have an effective meeting without the right people attending, or the wrong people attending. From there the agenda is the driving force. If there are things on the agenda that no one cares about, then no one will care about the meeting. The best agendas are written and distributed in advance, even if it’s only a day ahead. They are succinct, clear and help everyone know where you are headed.
If there are things on the agenda that no one cares about, then no one will care about the meeting.

You got something accomplished.

Progress is king! There is nothing worse than just spinning your wheels and going nowhere. What did you get done? What decisions were made? It’s OK if you don’t solve everything, but it’s critical that you moved some things forward.

People left more energized than when they arrived.

You know what an afternoon meeting can be like! Even with coffee and snacks, they can be killer. Keep things moving, allow for a little fun and laughter, and stay fully engaged. As the leader, you set the pace and the temperature. If the meeting is slow, dull and boring, it’s because you allowed it to be that way.  A good meeting leaves people fired-up!

There was candid but respectful discussion.

Honesty is essential for a good meeting. If people pull punches and then say what they really think afterward in the hallways, you have a problem that needs to be solved. Trust is crucial for a good meeting, and a respectful attitude toward each other is a must. If that is not happening, put that on the agenda!

Everyone is clear on the next steps and who owns them.

This point on the checklist is relatively simple, but often overlooked. Who does what next? That’s it! For each point on the agenda be clear about who will take responsibility for further progress. Don’t leave saying: “We’ll get back to that later.” Later never happens. Or, “We’ll work on that.” Who is we? When is it due? And who will check to see that it’s happening?

Positive conversation continued in and on the way out of the room.

Some meetings are challenging and carry a serious tone, but they can still be positive. Solving problems and making things better requires the courage to deal with reality, but a good leader can still keep the atmosphere upbeat and optimistic. The best test is what happens right after the meeting. If there is upbeat and friendly banter in the room for a few minutes, and on the way out, you are on the right track.

You may have strongly disagreed with someone in the meeting, but the relationships are still strong.

I’ve been in many meetings where things got tense. Strong leaders who are passionate about the vision have strong opinions! That’s good! But like I mentioned earlier about respect for each other, you want to build a team where the strength of relationships will always trump disagreement. Because we’re all human, and sometimes things can go too far, if a line is crossed, ask forgiveness quickly. Don’t let it linger. We all share the same Kingdom value of changed lives for the good, so let’s also make sure we help our teammates experience the same value we offer to those we serve in the congregation.