Meeting Makeover: 5 Productive Meeting Tips For Entrepreneurs

Shannon Waller
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The Meeting Makeover

For business leaders, there are numerous conversations that have to happen with different team members to keep things moving, and back-to-back meetings are a daily experience.

But what amazes me is how little strategy entrepreneurs put behind them.

Traditional meeting formats are the norm even though they’re often unproductive and uncreative. Gathering a group of people in a room—where usually two or three people do the talking and no one is clear or intentional about their contribution—has more of a tendency to waste time than achieve results.

So how do you hold a really productive meeting that taps into the strengths and mental energy of everyone in the room? Here’s the methodology we swear by for meetings that team members actually want to be a part of:

  1. Start every meeting in a positive zone. As human beings, we have a natural tendency to focus on all the things that are going wrong or that we didn’t get done. At Strategic Coach®, we use a process called The Positive Focus® that encourages everyone to share something they’ve made progress on or are excited about. It immediately sets the tone and direction of the entire meeting and allows everyone to shift to a place of positivity, counteracting any negativity they may have initially entered the room with.
  2. Set intentions and put someone in charge. Whatever the purpose of the meeting, have someone in the room take charge of leading it. This is usually someone who’s great at “making things real.” Have them report on current progress, give clarity on what needs to happen, and get commitment on future growth.
  3. Have the right people in the right meetings. Really great meetings are ones where everyone’s in input mode. Take time to consider who will be involved. You want people in the room who are active contributors, have background knowledge, are decision makers, and who are directly impacted by the outcome. Be wary of getting bogged down by people whose motivation for being there is status, not productive contribution. You have the freedom to arrange your meetings however you like—so why not do it in a way that gets the best results?
  4. Arrange meetings to make the best use of people’s mental energy. One of the most productive meeting tips for any entrepreneurial team is to encourage people to get clear on what meetings they should and should not be a part of. Some of us are great in brainstorming meetings, while others get stressed out. The same goes for process meetings. When it comes to mental energy, it’s most effective to consider who can bring the right value to a meeting and make sure those are the people in the room.

    My support partner, Nicole, isn’t a fan of brainstorming meetings because while everyone is coming up with new ideas, all she can think about is how we’re going to execute them. She’s figuring out the plan, and by the time she’s come up with it, the idea has already evolved and changed, her mental energy spent for nothing. What’s more beneficial is having her join us at the beginning of the meeting to set the context and get us organized, leave, and then join us again for the last 15 minutes to schedule the follow-up meeting. This way, we’re both freed up to do what we do best.

    The same advice goes for entrepreneurs. If you’re going squirrelly hashing out small details and steps and are tempted to hijack the meeting, excuse yourself and come back at the end so your team can do what they need to do.

  5. End meetings by having people share their biggest insight or next steps. There’s so much valuable conversation and wisdom that occurs in a single meeting. It’s worthwhile to set aside time at the end of every meeting to have everyone share their biggest insight and next steps. It reinforces what they got out of the conversation and is a great way to expand your own perspective. You’ll also notice that things happen faster because there’s more commitment behind them.

By implementing these productive meeting tips in your own business, you’ll notice a kind of magic happening. Meetings will no longer be something your team dreads or tries to avoid, but instead will become a way to reconnect, get creative, decide on strategy, get support, celebrate progress, and generate momentum.

Other great meeting resources:
Death by Meeting, Patrick Lencioni
Meetings Suck, Cameron Herold