Remember when you were little and playing a game with the neighbor kids, then they change the rules and say “oh yeah, I forgot to tell about…” or if you’re learning a new game with some friends and they say “I’ll start with the basic rules so we can get the game going, and I’ll fill you in as we go on the details.”
I get frustrated in a situation when I can’t contribute my best because the parameters aren’t clear, and when it comes to our creative meetings, our team has found some really effective ways to maximize our productivity and effectiveness in a short amount of time – the reason: we’ve all agree to play by the rules.
These rules are not meant to limit participation (like saying you can’t touch the soccer ball with your hands) but are rather to give us a clear playing field so we can get to (in my opinion) the fun part of brainstorming and creating an execution strategy.
This list is not the 9 ways to have a perfect meeting, or 9 ways your team has to do it. Each team is different, has different players and is playing a different game (if I may continue that analogy). Take these ideas and figure out what they look like for your team, how they get applied and what your team needs to add to be most effective.
You may be asking “Adam, what does this have to do with marketing?” My answer would be that effective meetings will help you achieve results. Not sure what I mean? Try these on with your team…
I’d love to hear how you’ve implemented these or what you’ve added.
1. Invite only the relevant players
If you’re playing football, and it’s the offensive line on the field, don’t invite the defense to the party. If your conversation requires one person, have a one-on-one meeting. If your conversation requires everyone on your team except one person, honor that persons time and let them know why you’re not bringing them in if necessary, but don’t bring them in to sit in an irrelevant meeting. If you have a set meeting where everyone on your team comes together, then only discuss issues relevant to everyone, and save the others for later.
2. Have an Agenda
Be clear about what you want to discuss and who needs to be in the discussion about those topics. Be clear about the order. Decide that information before you call the meeting. Sometimes you may want to share that agenda before the meeting, and sometimes it’s relevant to get everyone’s initial reactions at the same time. Whether you share it ahead or not, have an agenda.
3. Start on Time and End on Time
I find it odd that we used to talk about when the meeting would start, but not have a clear plan about when the meeting would end. Based on inviting the right people and having an agenda, take a guess at how long the meeting will be and set an end time… this way people can schedule their next appointment or goals and tasks for the day after that meeting.
When that time arrives, END ON TIME! If there is more discussion to be had, book a follow up meeting with some or all of the relevant people.
4. Everybody contributes
If you’ve hand-picked who will be in the meeting, they’re here for a reason. Everybody contributes. We have some people on our team who are louder and some quieter. Some who process out loud and some who sit and think. Some people who want their opinion to be considered, and others who are happy to find a way to support whatever decision is made. Regardless of those factors, everybody contributes. After discussion and when a decision has to be made, go around the table and ask everyone what they’re suggestion is.
If you have a team member who likes to process, ask them last, once they’ve heard everyone else’s input. “Whatever the team decides” is not contributing, because if that’s your answer, you didn’t need to be in the decision meeting.
You could help that person by asking “If the decision was yours, what would you choose?” or if they say “I pretty much agree with everyone” then ask “How do you see yourself participating in implementing.” or “What would it look like if we made a different decision?” Learn to hear what’s not being said and draw the input out of that person. They have a unique perspective that is valuable to the team.