Meetings - We all have 'em, can't live with 'em, and can't live without 'em.
BNET did a video interview with me on some key points to communicate more effectively through meetings.
Here are some additional tips we give to our clients at Decker Communications, Inc., where we train people to communicate effectively - I call them the 10 Steps to Better Meetings:
1. Cut the meetings you have in half. Cut the time of the meetings that remain in half.
This assumes you are the leader of the meetings. Unproductive talk and time will fill the space of long meetings - The Peter Principle in action.
2. Have an agenda.
Bullets only, direction driven, not "update" driven. It also helps to distribute in advance by email if you have time and access.
3. Be on time.
Start on time. Model your time at the beginning so people know you respect their time. Don't wait for stragglers, and don't catch up items for late comers (unless it happens to be the boss.)
4. Be controversial.
Not outlandish, but stimulate robust dialogue. The reason most meetings are boring is because most meetings are boring. As the meeting leader, it's up to you to make it interesting.
5. Have a focus, a Point Of View.
Meetings should not be primarily for updates and information exchange, but for action, discussion and direction.
6. Use intentional eye communication.
As a leader, look at everyone or they won't feel included. And when you want someone to speak up more, glance at them. Skillful eye communication can direct and influence without words.
7. Be energetic – voice, gestures.
The Shadow of the Leader. Your enthusiasm will drive others. And if you're not the leader, the more energy and interest you show the more likely you will become one.
(See Bonus #1 below.) If you are not encouraging Twitter in your meeting, you must be interesting. If the meeting and you are interesting, people won't go to Twitter on their own, or their IM's and mails on their iPhones and Blackberrys. Set your ground rules for what you want to accomplish, and then accomplish it by relevance, vitality, energy and interest.
9. Drive to action steps.
Meetings should create actions, not informational data dumps. Be intentional.
10. End with a bang, not a whimper.
Most meetings peter out. Not only end with an action step(s) , close it off with an upbeat quote, story or video clip. Be creative - and your meetings will be too.
Bonus #1:Decide whether or not you want to encourage people to Twitter during the meeting or not. (See Speakers - Be Aware Twitter Is Coming) It can be an interesting and engaging tool, or it can be a total disruption. Be intentional. Be smart.
Bonus #2: Get a Flip Video and record your meetings on video or DVD - put one up in the back of the room to see how you and others interact and behave. Observed behavior changes.
Bonus #2: Buy and read "Death By Meeting" by Patrick Lencioni, a great speaker and consultant. There is a plethora of good advice and concepts in his book that will change the way you run your meetings.