5 Tips for Running Efficient and Effective Meetings

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Cameron Herold

If done right, your meetings hold the potential to drive alignment within business; give direction; generate energy, focus, and creativity; and inspire your people to elevate the company and their career to the next level.

You hear it all the time. Meetings Suck. It’s the one thing everyone in business can agree on. However, in his new book, MEETINGS SUCK, the man Forbes Magazine calls the CEO Whisperer and Founder of the COO Alliance, Cameron Herold proves that meetings don’t suck. Instead it’s that we suck at running meetings.

In MEETINGS SUCK, Herold teaches an easy to implement system to run focused, time effective meetings to help companies and their employees soar. In fact, he says, “If done right, your meetings hold the potential to drive alignment within business; give direction; generate energy, focus, and creativity; and inspire your people to elevate the company and their career to the next level.”

Here are 5 of the many tips from MEETINGS SUCK for running an effective, efficient meeting:

1.    Every Meeting Must Have An Agenda

Herold’s motto is “No Agenda, No Attenda!” He says if he doesn’t receive an agenda, he won’t go to a meeting—and neither should you or your employee. Every meeting must have a clear agenda distributed to attendees in advance, so they have a clear expectation of what to expect. By taking the time to plan, prepare, and distribute an agenda ahead of time, Herold promises you’ll reap the benefits. It is essential to help people understand the meeting’s purpose; to help them decide whether it’s relevant to attend; to give people time to prepare for the meeting and think through ideas; and to keep the meeting on topic and running on time.

2.    Every Well-Run Meeting Has These Elements

Herold shares that well-run meetings all share several elements. A meeting must have a clear purpose that is stated right on the agenda. A meeting should have a maximum of three outcomes or the things you want to get done. Any more than that and another secondary meeting should be planned. Every meeting should start exactly on time and stop 5 minutes early. Herold says too often people arrive at meetings late because they overbook their schedule. Everyone in a company, he says, should implement the “5 Minute Buffer” rule (stopping meetings or phone meetings 5 minutes early). That way no one should ever be late to meetings. It gives people a chance to debrief after meetings, time to get to their next meeting, a chance to check in with their assistant or to grab a cup of coffee. Herold also suggests booking your meetings for half the time you originally planned to book them for. He calls this compressing time. We all know that in general meetings and obligations tend to fill the space you give them. By limiting the time of the meeting, Herold shares, you increase your productivity, maximize efficiency, and implement a more profitable system of time management. Every meeting should also include five key roles. And lastly, you need to have proper communication styles for your meeting. (More on these last two elements below.)

3.    Know Your Role In The Meeting

Every meeting must include five key roles: the Moderator, the Parking Lot, the Timekeeper, the Participants, and the Closer. Each of these five roles is crucial to running successful meetings, and taking the time to assign each of the roles at the beginning of each meeting will make your meetings more productive. The Moderator is the chairperson of the meeting who is tasked with ensuring that everyone stays on track, coverts the agenda items in the allotted time, and facilitates a quality discussion. “A meeting is a terrific place to help people grow into leaders, and it’s the task of the Moderator to accomplish this. A good moderator will look around the room and observe which people need to engage more, and which people need to back off a bit…And this may sound surprising, but the Moderator doesn’t have to be the one who organized the meeting,” Herold says. The Parking Lot person is the one who keeps the notepad of promising ideas, but they couldn’t be addressed because they weren’t on the agenda. The Timekeeper’s role is to ensure each agenda item is covered in the proper order and within the time allotted. Participants are the people who arrive prepared and ready to contribute for the meeting or parts of the meeting they’re attending. The Closer, while often the Moderator, can also be the most senior person or the organizer of the meeting. He or she assigns duties and timelines at the end of the meeting; summarizes everything that was covered; and then goes around the room to make sure everyone understands what they committed to do and the deadline to complete it.

4.    Determine A Meeting Style

The meeting organizer should choose from one of three meeting styles: Information Sharing, Creative Discussion or Consensus Decision and include one of these three styles on each bulleted item on the agenda. The Information Style is a one-way flow of information without discussion, debate or decision reached by the group. This style is often used for weekly updates, to share new ideas or to provide feedback. The Creative Discussion style revolves around brainstorming with the goal to place lots of ideas on the table. Herold says, “This isn’t about making a decision or debating the viability of each idea. It’s about embracing possibilities.” When you use this style, it’s important to remind people that you chose them to attend because you believe they have value to provide and that you encourage people to share all their ideas. In the Consensus Decision style, a decision is made by the people in the room. Herold states, “Ideally, this unifies people as a team, since everyone feels that they have had a hand in making the decision, even if they disagree with the final result.

5.    Foster Useful Communication and Leaders

Everyone needs to participate and be heard at a meeting. Herold suggests you want everyone participating because you need a healthy dose of conflict and differing opinions. Healthy conflict is the result of two people arguing passionately over what they believe is right. As long as the argument is to move an idea or an agenda item forward, and not merely for the sake of being “right,” conflict is healthy and should be used to advance the company. “You want even the silent, reserved people to speak up because they could add tremendous value to the discussion.”

Herold advises that the best thing you can do as the leader if you have quieter, reserved people at a meeting is to hold your ideas back until the end. Herold warns, “Too often leaders offer their ideas first, but you don’t want to sway your employees. You want their voices heard. But people don’t become confident or grow as leader by listening to what you have to say. Instead you need to encourage the members of the team to offer their ideas, first, especially those less inclined to speak up.”

Herold offers that one way to do this is to implement the Post It Note exercise in meetings. Let’s say you’re having a brainstorming meeting, Herold recommends handing out a stack of post it notes and ask everyone to write one idea per post it. After everyone has 2-3 minutes to write down his or her idea, ask the newest or most junior team member to stand up and read his/her idea and then post it on the wall first. People can only ask clarifying question. Continue until everyone’s ideas get posted on the wall. This way everyone’s ideas are heard. Herold says, “By the time the entrepreneur or CEO is posting his/her idea, it’s already up on the wall. Our job as leaders is to grow people so they have great ideas. Our job is to give them the vision and let them figure out how to implement it.”

In MEETINGS SUCK, you’ll find these and many other important tools to run the most productive and valuable meetings and become a more effective leader, manager, or participant. Ultimately, Herold wants everyone to walk out a meeting smiling, feeling inspired, and thinking: “That was awesome! Let’s get to work.”

Herold says “too many people leave the office feeling they provided no value to the organization during the day. I want to flip that. After reading MEETINGS SUCK, you will know the model for running effective powerful, and valuable meetings. And when you use this model, not only will your meetings improve, but you will imbue them with renewed focus, energy, and accountability—elements that will also help to improve and drive your company culture.”            

About Cameron Herold

Cameron Herold is the mastermind behind hundreds of companies’ exponential growth. His current clients include a ‘Big 4’ wireless carrier and a monarchy. Cameron has earned his reputation as the CEO Whisperer by guiding his clients to double their profit and double their revenue in just three years or less.

By 35, Cameron helped build his first TWO $100 million-dollar companies. By the age of 42, Cameron engineered 1-800-GOT-JUNK?’s spectacular growth from $2 Million to $106 Million in revenue, and 3100 employees in just six years. His companies landed over 5,200 media placements in that same six years, including coverage on Oprah.

Cameron is the author of the global best-selling business book DOUBLE DOUBLE in its 7th printing and in multiple translations around the world. Cameron is a top rated international speaker and has been paid to speak in 26 countries. He is also the top-rated lecturer at EO/MIT’s Entrepreneurial Master’s Program and a powerful and effective speaker at Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer leadership events around the world.

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