Leadership: Executing Effective Meetings

Leadership: Executing Effective Meetings


This is a compelling topic for me because I feel passionate about company meetings.  Company meetings are opportunities to convey  enthusiasm about what you do, how you do it, and who you do it for.  Company meetings are not only a tool to accomplish great things, they are a forum to cast vision for your company.  Before conducting any company meeting you should be clear on what the Controlling Vision of your company is.  The meeting you are about to have should fit within the sphere of your controlling vision and your controlling vision should be persuasively spoken as the larger goal before beginning this meeting.  Stating your company's controlling vision gives meaning and context to any other meeting.


Make sure you need a meeting.  Will an email be just as effective?  Can a call accomplish what needs to be done?  I have been guilty of having a meeting with a group of people to correct or adjust a single person.  This approach makes all the other participants have to suffer through a meeting they didn't need.  Our employees probably know exactly what we were doing when we do this and this approach may constitute grounds for a credibility withdrawal from the one who called the meeting by the other employees because in those cases we wasted their time and didn't just go and meet one on one with the one offender to work it out directly. 


Make your meetings as short as possible.  Nido Qubein president of Highpoint University  assigns people who need an audience with him a certain number of units of time to make their case.  One unit of time is equal to five minutes and he gives one, two, or three units of time to hear your thought.  Even if he had more time than he allotted, he knows you will get to the point and kick your pitch into high gear quickly if you know you only have two units of time.  This saves both the presenter and the audience valuable time. 


Care for the atmosphere of the meeting.  We pray before meetings because people are coming from different mental and emotional situations to collaborate on a matter.  There is nothing like bathing  all our considerations and concerns in prayer before taking on a new one in the meeting we have called. 


Feed your people.  Take 10 to 15 minutes to read something out of a great, relevant book to your people and then find a point or two to fellowship.  Mark where you left off and begin again at that point at the next meeting.  You can bring your staff through an excellent book in less than a year if you have the need to meet regularly.  I had to drag one of my key managers into this practice.  I endured many sighs and other body language to prove the worthiness of this practice but after about six or eight meetings he began to enjoy it.  Now he is king of feeding his people.  Reading 10 minutes out of a great book brings life to the meeting.


Set a specific goal for the meeting and hold the meeting to this goal.  I am not very good at this, but because I lead high-powered managers who love staying on task, my people try to keep a tight rein on me.   My biggest offence is bringing up unrelated items to the topic at hand because the right people are present.  This can frustrate the focus and make meetings feel endless and pointless.


Start on time and end on time - In fact, end early.  Don't make time, the only measure of the length of the meeting.  Make the objective the measure of the length of the meeting and stop as soon as the objective is reached or when time has run out. 


Most all meetings are to end with a transfer of responsibility.  If responsibility isn't given away in a proper documented way, you, (the leader) will become the bottleneck.  If you cannot give your people responsibility, maybe you have a problem delegating, or maybe you have made a poor hiring decision and need to correct it.  People need to be challenged.  They need to own a task and be rewarded for the outcome.  If you don't give people the chance to fail, you will never complete your people.  (Email me for a copy of my article, Leadership: Compete or Complete.) Leaving a meeting with nothing to do makes a meeting seem like a waste of time and is demoralizing.


Good questions to answer before you meet - We are meeting:

To organize what?

To collaborate about what?

To encourage what?

To strategize about what?

To begin, develop, or correct what?

To affect which business process or procedure?

To transfer responsibility for what?

Answering these questions will help you get focused and stay focused on exactly what you need to get accomplished.  The more specific you can get the more productive the meeting will be.


Start a spread sheet in Microsoft's OneNote and as you work toward your goal, develop Action Plans.   OneNote is a collaboration software everyone in the meeting can add something to at the same time.  It allows you to open pages within a notebook so you can break your subject down into manageable portions.  Any other spreadsheet is fine; I only wanted to turn you on to OneNote because it is cool and great for meetings and collaboration. 


OPOT-ELM (pronounced Oh-pot-elm) is an acronym I developed for Diverse CTI which contains all the elements of direction.  It is such a silly phrase we can't seem to forget it and we use the acronym all the time referring to the sum total of the elements of direction.  Seven words define direction and unless you have all seven elements you don't have real direction and if you don't have direction you don't know what to do.  Using these seven specific words is an easy way to make sure complete direction is present and accounted for.  Email me if you would like to know the seven words that define direction at tcochran@diversecti.net and I will also send you a sample spreadsheet with how we do our action plans.


Principal of Constructive Embarrassment

Group planning meetings with group designed action plans with buy-in from the responsible parties are effective because of the principle of constructive embarrassment.  I learned this phrase from Bill Bean, chairman of Strategia, author, speaker, and consultant.  Embarrassment can be constructive. 


Make your meetings fun and compelling.  You hate going to boring meetings.  Everyone does.  A fun and compelling meeting requires preparation.  If you aren't prepared, cancel the meeting.  Reschedule the meeting at a later date and make sure to be prepared.  Our sales manager plays clips from movies, springs pop quizzes, always has a Power Point presentation, speaks with conviction, and ends with a charge.  He makes you want to go find someone to help.  We begin our company meetings begin with an icebreaker everyone enjoys.  We give away prizes for learning things, memorizing things, completing things, etc.  Feel free to email me and ask for my favorite icebreakers also. 


I purposefully have not addressed the dynamics of conducting a meeting.  Active listening, dialoging, corralling, priming, protecting, serving, etc. are important and perhaps I will write something at a later date on these dynamics.  The focus of this article is to get your juices flowing toward having energizing, result oriented meetings and to help you consistently and unrelentingly move your people into the experience of knowing  the satisfaction of taking responsibility, ownership and ultimately excellence.


My email address is tcochran@diversecti.net. 


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Founder and CEO of Diverse CTI.  Bachelor degree in ministry with an emphasis in counseling.

His vocational calling is to help people grow and develop in all areas of their person - spirit, soul, and body. He has risen to the top of his industry and has been recognised as a leader in communications, specifically telecommunications and data networking, for more than 25 years.  His passions have resulted in building Diverse CTI into an excellent company with an impecable reputation.  He has enjoyed designing communication strategies for other excellent companies over the past 25 years and is still having fun. Find out more about Tom!

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