Want Better Meetings? Put the Purpose in the Name

Aug 23, 2021 by Elise Keith in tips & techniques (8 minute read)

You don't necessarily need an agenda to have a great meeting. 

I'm pretty sure you knew that already.

I'm guessing you've attended many useful and interesting meetings that lacked an agenda. I bet that when someone tells you "No agenda, no attenda!" you feel chastened, but also a bit annoyed by this demand for what feels like busy work.  Short, purposeful meetings simply don't need an agenda. 

Every meeting, though, should have a clear purpose. Why does this group need to spend this time together?

Leaders around the world have a lazy habit of adding meetings to the calendar without making it clear why that meeting needs to happen. As Doodle reported in a 2019 study of over 10 million meetings:

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Topics: tips & techniques

Make Better Decisions Faster by Standardizing Your Decision-Making Criteria

Jul 9, 2021 by Elise Keith in tips & techniques, decision making (8 minute read)

Note: These criteria were originally shared as part of our guide to establishing an effective decision-making process

Have you ever responded to a Request For Proposal (RFP), with its pages and pages of Musts, Shoulds, and Nice to Have selection criteria?

Or, let's keep it simple. Have you ever worked with your team to decide where you should go for lunch?

If you've ever chosen between multiple viable options, you've used decision-making criteria to make that choice.

Or maybe not? Maybe you and your team acted out this scene?

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Topics: tips & techniques, decision making

Top 5 Tips for Smarter Meetings (Times 12!)

Jun 9, 2020 by Elise Keith in behind the scenes, fun with meetings, tips & techniques (9 minute read)

Recently we hosted two online parties where we invited folks to join us in creating a big list of Tip-Top Top Tips for Smarter Meetings. The whole event was an experiment. We wondered:

  • Would it work to combine all these different meeting techniques?
  • How much real value could a group of random strangers create within an hour?
  • Would anyone find this interesting enough to show up?

Much to my great surprise, we were joined by nearly 80 people over the two sessions. The techniques we practiced worked better the second time through, which is a testament to the value of practice. And it turns out that interested, engaged people can quickly create a lot of value when given the opportunity and structure.

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Topics: behind the scenes, fun with meetings, tips & techniques

The Right Story for Every Meeting

Feb 7, 2020 by Elise Keith in fun with meetings, tips & techniques (6 minute read)

We've all experienced the power of storytelling. A great story can inspire and move us in ways that spreadsheets or presentations full of bulleted lists never will.


We are wired to learn from stories. And yet, only a few rare leaders regularly tell stories in meetings. Most leaders limit themselves to dry information sharing and opinion statements, holding to a mistaken belief that storytelling is somehow unprofessional. But unlike most reports, a good story communicates both data and meaning simultaneously, which makes stories more efficient and effective. 

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Topics: fun with meetings, tips & techniques

Talking Across Differences

Nov 21, 2019 by Elise Keith in tips & techniques (7 minute read)

How do you meet respectfully with people you don't understand or agree with?

As we go into the holidays and strategic planning season, we have so many opportunities to bridge the chasms between us. But how?

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Topics: tips & techniques

The 7 Most Frequently Asked Questions about Leading Engaging Meetings

Sep 30, 2019 by Elise Keith in tips & techniques, training (18 minute read)

Last week we launched Barbara MacKay's new Meeting School course on How to Lead Engaging Meetings. It's sweet. I took it and learned a bunch of handy new tips, and I had fun too. Barbara's a dynamic, warm presenter and a joy to watch.

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Topics: tips & techniques, training

The Real-Time Agenda Technique

Mar 22, 2018 by Elise Keith in tips & techniques (16 minute read)

I was enjoying lunch at a technology conference with a group of CTOs from high-powered companies when the conversation turned from blockchain to meetings.

It’s funny how that always happens.

First, we heard about the awful meetings held at a large manufacturing company. Then, it was the CTO for an NFL team's turn.

“My team meetings are terrible!” he exclaimed. “My problem is my co-manager. If it were up to me, we’d have an agenda for every meeting and a report afterwards. I’m an orderly type of guy. Like, you should see my sock drawer. It’s amazing! But my partner thinks that’s all too formal and stuffy, so whenever I bring an agenda he just ignores it. Then of course the meetings always go long, we never get through what we wanted to talk about, and we just end up having more meetings to hash it out again. I guess I should put my foot down and start forcing him to use an agenda.”

He sighed.

There are easily five things you could pick out of that statement as problems worth addressing, but the big one is the conflicting beliefs between the managers. One wants to “follow rules," the other sees rules as needless constraints.

“Have you heard of a real-time agenda? Or Lean Coffee?” I asked. He hadn’t, so I explained the concept.

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Topics: tips & techniques

How to Use Meeting Skills From the Workplace to Improve Conversations With Your Kids

Mar 2, 2018 by Paul Axtell in tips & techniques (8 minute read)

We said this in our last post and we'll say it again:

You get what you tolerate.

When you tolerate subpar behavior from your family members, your colleagues or your significant other, that's what you'll get. 

Meetings, in their truest form, are conversations - and conversations are a constant in our lives. Whether we're at work, with family, or socializing - they allow people to connect and understand each other better. 

What if you could improve conversations with your kids - and even have them buy in to the idea? 

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Topics: tips & techniques

Using Ground Rules to Improve Engagement and Run Excellent Team Meetings

Feb 4, 2018 by Elise Keith in tips & techniques (11 minute read)

You get what you tolerate.

I’ve heard this adage many times when complaining about my dog’s behavior, and occasionally regarding my children too. The person sharing that wisdom is telling me that my dog’s and my children’s poor behavior persists because I allow it to; because I’m creating the conditions where that kind of thing can occur not just once, but repeatedly.

Recently we hosted a webinar on how to increase engagement during team meetings, and we asked people who registered about the number one meeting engagement problem they hoped we could help solve.

Several registrants asked about how to deal with the person who won’t stop talking, making it hard for anyone else to get a word in. Several others asked about how to get people to show up on time, or even to show up at all.

I shared some specific techniques for helping with these situations in the webinar, but as more and more of these replies kept coming in, I couldn’t help but hear that adage echo in the back of my head.

You get what you tolerate.

While I believe that’s true to a degree, I never found it particularly useful!

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Topics: tips & techniques

Use These 5 Meeting Types to Improve Your Communication with Freelancers

Nov 14, 2017 by Jock Purtle in remote work, tips & techniques (5 minute read)

As your business grows, you have two routes you can take when it comes to staffing: you can hire employees or you can work with freelancers.

Many businesses are realizing the benefits of hiring remote employees and freelancers, rather than hiring in-house employees.

However, managing a team of freelancers can have its own challenges. Communication and clear direction are key to ensuring the team understand their roles, responsibilities, goals and how to escalate problems.

You also need to ensure your in-house team understand the project and how they will work with the freelancers you hire.

Regular, structured meetings and open lines of communication help ensure everything stays on track. Through each stage of the project lifecycle, diarize key meetings and ensure resulting actions and queries are followed up on.

Freelancers often work remotely in different countries with different time zones and cultures. Online meeting solutions as well as cloud based project management tools mean there’s no excuses for not communicating effectively wherever you are.

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Topics: remote work, tips & techniques