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.
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.
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.”
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
As more and more teams are collaborating remotely, having effective meetings between various stakeholders is key to successful projects. Developers and designers are two core stakeholders in this process.
Collaboration between them and the issues surrounding how designers share designs with developers are much talked about and clearly a question that has not been answered in whole.
Today, developer and design teams are spread across time zones to build products for a global audience. In such scenarios, communication is the key.
The people, processes, and tools all contribute to the communication process. Having transparent workflows that make it simple for everyone across the team setup to work with one another creates better communication channels.
When it comes to meetings for developers and designers, issues of scope, feasibility, bugs, navigation, and aesthetics are some of the main talking points. Left unmoderated and unchecked, they can stagnate projects to no end.
Angela, one of our newest customers, called in with a problem.
She’d started using Lucid to organize and run her meetings, and had her team log in too. She felt more organized, and was happy with the automated records she got afterwards, but she wasn’t getting the kind of engagement from the rest of the group she’d hoped for.
“Before Lucid, only one person reluctantly took notes, which did not engage the rest of the team. I knew the Lucid notes would be more inclusive and accurate with the whole team participating.
However I also knew the team would not want to participate right away.
I encouraged other people to take notes, but no one did. For those first meetings, it was still me doing all of the typing.”
It was a problem. While she now had a way to make sure her meetings came with clearly documented results, they weren’t necessarily more enjoyable to attend when everyone else just watched her type.
Meetings bring a group together to quickly discover answers and ideas that no one person can find by themselves.
Whether we’re working to negotiate the details of a new project, finding a way to tackle a challenging problem, or seeking to define our strategic vision, the pattern is the same; someone poses a question, and the group starts brainstorming answers.
Effective brainstorming is essential to nearly every type of business meeting.
Unfortunately, not all questions are created equally.
Sometimes the questions asked in a meeting don’t invite meaningful answers. Asking “Everyone good with that?” after dictating a decision isn’t an effective way to surface real concerns or get real commitments.
Some questions are too vague, making it unclear what kind of answer to give. Questions like “Do you have any feedback?” result in either polite non-replies (e.g., “Nope, I’m good.”) or long-winded side discussions that don’t necessarily get to the answers the group needs.
Getting great ideas from a group during a meeting can be hard, and for many participants, traditional brainstorming can feel like a painful waste of time.
First, despite the popularity of brainstorming sessions, we have some evidence that meetings aren’t always the best place to birth new ideas. Ideal or not, however, sometimes a meeting is the only real opportunity we have to explore ideas as a group, so we’d better make it work.
Some people don’t seem to understand the difference between a group meeting and a personal consultation, taking it upon themselves to dominate the meeting by answering all the questions first, loudly, and in great detail.