The word “meeting” might as well be a four-letter word. Come on… admit it. If you’re like us, you’ve at least uttered a four-letter word (or two, three or four) when you get that unexpected calendar notification pop up. Ding!
Research suggests we lose $338 in average salary costs per meeting. Sixty-three percent of meetings are conducted without a pre-planned agenda. Think about how many meetings are for nothing more than meeting sake. There are more than 11 million meetings a day in America, and nearly half (45%) are staff meetings.
Ding! … f***.
However, at YMC we have made some headway for more productive meetings. In fact, they are not only becoming more effective, they are becoming more fun. If your credit union or community bank is experiencing “meeting hell,” give some of these tips a shot.
Stop Before You Begin
Before you hit send, ask yourself if a meeting is even necessary. So often meetings are for information sharing only. Can it be summed up in an email? Can it be a five-minute update at the end of another scheduled meeting? Always begin by asking yourself if a meeting is necessary. If you know the end game – that the devil is, in fact, in the details – simply share them and be done with it.
Ask for Attendees
As an agency of free thinkers, we have a lot of creative people and more brainstorming meetings than the typical business. While the research suggests that two-thirds of all meetings are staff and information sharing meetings, only 5% of meetings are for brainstorming. We find this crazy! But if this is the case for your credit union or community bank, where are you gaining perspective? Are things decided in silos or dictated simply by leadership? It’s something to ponder.
Take Note: Stop notifying and start inviting. We’ve found that when you do this, you get people who really want to engage. After all, isn’t that what we really want out of our meetings? Letting the staff step up and say, “Yes, I want to be a part of this,” is more meaningful, encourages greater conversation, and we have found it ultimately moves the needle for our projects.
Likewise, this allows people to ask themselves if they are right for the meeting. If they are not, they can stay out. And that’s OK. Of course, you have to watch out for the serial noncommittal folks. A little extra encouragement for participation will usually do the trick. However, it very well may be you holding them back (see below).
Primary Purpose + Desired Results
We hate meetings because they are a tremendous time suck. They can be disorganized and quite often end with no decision, direction or action steps. We don’t view them as important or insightful because they often start with little detail.
When we are crafting creative materials for our clients, we start with the value proposition and the goals of the loan, deposit or product we are promoting. The focus is well identified from the start, and the end result is work that actually matters. The same framework can be applied to effective meetings.
Identify the primary purpose and desired results of your meeting. Provide an agenda that asks open-ended questions that will provoke thought and insight from your participants. There may not be such a thing as a stupid question, but there certainly are good questions. Take the time upfront to set the stage. Remember this: Preparation is in the separation, and the more prepared your attendees are, the more productive your meeting will be.
Stay on Topic
Tangents. Arguments. Monologues. Dissent. It’s easy to get sidetracked. It’s also easy for a leader to rely on his or her position of authority to sway or move the conversation. Avoid using power dynamics. You don’t need to have all the answers. Because if you did, why did you call this meeting anyway?
Instead, ask good questions that will lead to the desired result you outlined in your agenda. Direct questions to individuals to engage the collective brainpower in the room. And make sure someone is taking notes. When we start with a clear agenda, have focused conversations, and create a detailed plan of what needs to happen next, great things actually get done.
Frank Allgood has more than 19 years of experience in every facet of public information and marketing communications. As Relationships Development Leader for Your Marketing Co., he is responsible for strategic brand experiences and marketing initiatives for credit unions and community banks across the country. For branding or rebranding projects, call 864.326.8740 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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