How to Run Better Meetings – 1st in a series

Boring Meeting

Greetings Leaders!

A friend on twitter (@markviii) suggested I write a blog on how to run better corporate board meetings. I’ve taught this before, and thought it would be an easy blog to write. Boy was I mistaken. After giving this some serious thought, I decided to run this as a series because of all the information I wanted to pass on. I also decided to generalize the posting to “How to Run Better Meetings”, not just corporate board meetings.

The first tip to running effective meetings, is to ask the question, Why? Why does your organization allow meetings to be run inefficiently? Here are just a few scenarios that I’ve come across during my travels:

  1. Lack of commitment to excellence – Ineffective meetings are just tolerated. No effort is made to provide training to managers, supervisors, and yes, even executives on how to run a meeting.
  2. Not enough time – We don’t have enough time to teach people how to run meetings, besides, a manager should already know how to do this.
  3. No one to do the training – Whose going to train these people? HR (if you have one) is already over loaded.
  4. Lack of executive insight into corporate culture. Executives are good at many things. Some of them are even good at running meetings. However, to make the assumption that an executive can run an effective meeting… just because they’re an executive… is a BIG mistake. If C-level execs can’t run meetings, how can you even hope to teach the value of effective meetings to the rest of the organization?

Your first step to running better meetings as an organization, is to gain commitment from your organization’s leadership to invest some time in this. I’m sure some of you will get the eye rolls when you bring up the question. Here is a true story that I experienced that I sometimes use to press the point home about wasted time and effort in ineffective meetings.

A Fortune 500 company was working on an IT consolidation project. As part of the project, mandatory weekly meetings were scheduled. Every Wednesday at 11 am, we would all get on a conference call that helped bring four offices/locations together from across the country. There were 50 managers and senior executives on this call! It took almost 10 minutes just to perform the roll call. What was discussed at these meetings? Believe it or not… nothing. For over an hour each week, we had 50 highly paid, highly experienced managers/execs on a call, to listen to 3 or 4 people babble on about their week. No real status, no schedule, no issues, no risks. Nada. Nothing.

Let’s do the math. 50 people at a conservative $150/hour equates to $7,500 on the phone per week. This evolves into $30,000/month or $360,000/year! That doesn’t include meeting prep time or the lost amount of work that could have been done with that time. What organization can afford to throw that kind of money out the window?! Consider also, this was not an isolated incident. The company culture promoted ineffective meetings. Conservatively, this company lost several million dollars a year, just because the leadership didn’t have enough commitment to understand and fix the problem.

So, how much money is your company wasting and more importantly, what are you going to do about it?

All the best,
All the time,

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