Can you remember your very first work meeting?
I wore lederhosen to mine.
For a month, one summer, I was slinging pizza at theme park owned by a beer company. Our uniforms were brown and blue lederhosen. (Thankfully there are no pictures.)
Our "team" of high school students served pizza to tourists who compliantly snaked around the "crowd control" lanes set up to handle big crowds. Each day started with a “team meeting.”
Do you remember your first?
Imagine 10 lederhosen-clad teenagers who only wanted to get to work so we could burn our hours and be gloriously free.
You’ll be present at a few (million) meetings in your career (or it might just feel like a few million.)
Many will be poorly run and too long. (Ha! Who am I kidding? Most will be.)
If you find a way to make your meetings fewer and shorter while still taming the bureaucratic beast of a even a tiny bit of progress, you'll get the kind of respect and appreciation that most people seek but find annoyingly elusive in their careers.
Last week, I got lured into an article headline offering an allegedly perfect five-word question to end a meeting with.
"Who's doing what, by when?"
Not bad. It won't always work, but nothing always works. It's a start.
I asked LinkedIn to ante up with a few more bright ideas to make meetings less painful.
Here’s a sampling of what came back:
1. “I start by eliminating distractions. To that end, no one...absolutely no one - no matter rank or title - is allowed to bring their mobile phone or device to any meeting.” This is bold and might lead to a revolt, but you'll have their attention and incentivize them to burn through that agenda in a hurry. 2. "What are we agreeing on? Depending on the size of the group, it is powerful to hear responses. The dialog gap is alive.”
From a sales leader: 3. “A great ‘Call to Action’ is crucial. Without one, you've just wasted the time you spent developing and delivering your presentation."
Four is a personal favorite.
4. “What's the problem we're trying to solve?
5. “Do we have the right people here to solve this problem?”
If you have a standing meeting it helps to check-in from time to time. Ask.
6. "What can we do to make this meeting better?" Hand out post-it notes and ask them to jot down ideas anonymously and leave them in a specific place. Whether you’re planning a hostile takeover or managing a pizza-slinging team of teenagers at a theme park, sprinkle some of those on your meeting script and see how it goes.
No Lederhosen required. Pizza optional (yet highly recommended.) You can see more meeting suggestions and add your own here on my original LinkedIn post. Sign up to get emails that make people say send me messages like this👇
The best thing you can do for your career is help someone else with theirs.
In that spirit...
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