categories: communication
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November 18th, 2008

by Craig Groeschel

26 comments (+ Add)

Setting the Tone for Effective Meetings

The start of the meeting generally sets the tone of the meeting. If people trickle in slowly, engage in extended small talk, and don’t have a plan, you’ve just set the tone for a bad meeting. Today, we’ll talk about how to set the tone for an effective meeting.

  • Assign a start time and honor it. If you don’t start on time, you’re communicating that the meeting isn’t important.
  • Ask your team to refrain from emailing, texting, or taking calls during the meeting. If you have everyone’s full attention, you can make significant progress quickly. Emailing, texting, etc. is very rude to those who aren’t.
  • Set an agenda. You might want to establish the agenda with a group ahead of time, set it yourself, or open the floor for agenda items. However you arrive at an agenda, make sure you have one.
  • Make the agenda visible. Write it a white board. Project it on the wall. Email it to your team members. Whatever you do, put it in writing and follow it.
  • Decide what topics you’re communicating and which needs decisions. Part of the meeting will be devoted to communicating and part to deciding. I like to cover communication first, then devote specific time to making decisions.

Thoughts?

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Comments

there are a total of26
  1. Nov 18, 2008 at 6:11 am

    Hi Craig, This is a very good post. as a guy who spends much of every Tuesday in meetings, I believe this is a very important issue to have right in your organisation. I am not saying I get it right every time, but it certainly my aim. You are a real blessing to the Body, keep up the great work.. Blessings from down under…

  2. 2Craig Mathison
    Nov 18, 2008 at 7:46 am

    This is a pretty modernist/left brain approach.

  3. Nov 18, 2008 at 8:02 am

    Great points to remember. Critical to be prepared and you’ve covered it, Craig. Important to establish the purpose for the meeting and these items will help to define it, in action alone. Not many of us are the greatest at “staying on task” on a consistent basis. Be consistent in every meeting opportunity.

  4. Nov 18, 2008 at 9:26 am

    Thanks for the good direction Craig. I really appreciated the one about emailing, calling or texting. Nothing fries me more than to see people texting when I am trying to talk to them. I want to take their phone and…well you know. :) I have actually not answered my phone because I think it is rude to be talking to someone on the phone while trying to talk to someone else, especially in a meeting. Call me old school I reckon. Several other points apply as well.

  5. 6Joe F
    Nov 18, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Great list Craig. I would add “End on time!” If it’s scheduled to be one hour end it in one hour. That helps people (including me) be prompt, alert, and productive–and on-time for the next thing.

  6. Nov 18, 2008 at 9:44 am

    I do some volunteer work as a chaplain, it is very rewarding, but the pain of sitting through the meetings is killer. I am a fan of a good meeting starts and ends on time. I think the one who leads the meeting should step in an stop someone who has hijacked the meeting. There are a number of other things but I agree with your assesment of how meetings should run.

  7. Nov 18, 2008 at 10:20 am

    Keep them alive with conflict. We have a term called “throwing the grenade on the table”. It is a way to challenge a thought or idea to cause conflict in the meeting. Conflict helps with idea generation, innovation and relationship building. For us we look at the quality of the meeting more than the quantity of issues covered.

    Craig, how do you guys integrate conflict?

  8. Nov 18, 2008 at 10:33 am

    Awesome post. We follow a pretty similar pattern for our meetings. The thing that has taken our meetings to the next level is adding the following questions to every meeting:
    1) What have we decided?
    2) What do we need to communicate?
    Every meeting has one person who takes minutes and then communicates action items to the assigned team member.

  9. Nov 18, 2008 at 11:02 am

    I’ve left some staff meetings with an agenda and all, going…what did we just do for three hours? I think what you describe helps take care of business! It could definitely enhance creativity. I am on my first church staff with my first job as a worship pastor and I’m doing all I can to start off right, in getting wisdom from the right places. Thanks for the original posts and comments.

  10. Nov 18, 2008 at 11:29 am

    choosing those who will be in the meeting is incredibly important - too often jsut becasue someone is at a certain level or holds a specific position they are invited when actually they should not be. On the same hand, often other people who could contribute greatly are left out of a meeting they could enhance because their title or position does not afford them that audience. this is a shame and should never be the case in a church ofr minsitry setting.

    craig, how do you select who is in a given meeting? you have spoken of terms, how else do you maintain diversity and avoid ruts in the meeting aspects of leadership?

  11. Nov 18, 2008 at 11:30 am

    choosing those who will be in the meeting is incredibly important - too often jsut becasue someone is at a certain level or holds a specific position they are invited when actually they should not be. On the same hand, often other people who could contribute greatly are left out of a meeting they could enhance because their title or position does not afford them that audience. this is a shame and should never be the case in a church or minsitry setting.

    craig, how do you select who is in a given meeting? you have spoken of terms, how else do you maintain diversity and avoid ruts in the meeting aspects of leadership?

  12. 16Mandi
    Nov 18, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    Great stuff! It helps to sharpen on these things. I am in a weekly staff meeting and I have meetings with my volunteer leadership team (11, including myself) monthly, on average. I have definitely went in un-prepared and I saw it on the faces of my leaders. You learn from that really fast! The agenda thing is definitely a must. Also, the time-honoring principle. Especially with volunteer leaders. It shows that you are aware of the sacrifice they are making to invest in the kingdom. (Time away from their family, etc.)
    One thing that has inhanced our meetings is to have my key leaders take notes, or minutes, and email them back to me and then to everyone else at the meeting. They will catch things that I expounded on that weren’t in my agenda. They also record the decisions we made and what actions we will be taking. This frees me up to lead the meeting and not take extra time to stop and write things down, which can break my train of thought (i know, i’m a little add). But, the greater benefit is allowing my leaders to get involved. I love to read how they paraphase my thoughts and ideas. It helps me to see through their eyes and also to gauge if I am effectively communicating what I want them to receive. It also allows them to sharpen their skills, take ownership of their role and gives them experience in team leading. It has really been great for us.

  13. Nov 18, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    I have definitely become a fan of the “meeting as needed” thought. Moving from a position with a lot of full-time staff and daily set meetings, to an environment with mostly volunteer leaders, has helped me see the benefit of less meetings. More can be accomplished with a focused phone call, email, video chat…than a rambling 2 hour meeting. Great series Craig.

  14. Nov 18, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    5 Good Reads…

    Go ahead, grab a cup of coffee, tea, or hot cocoa and enjoy these five blog posts.

    The Time is Now by Doug Jones
    The Video Revolution (disclaimer: muffled foul language.)
    Setting the Tone for Effective Meetings by Craig Groeschel
    30 Days of Thanks/Gi…

  15. Nov 18, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Bill - I agree completely. Being lead by the person doing the texting or twittering is even more distracting and quite frankly rude.

  16. Nov 18, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    I loved this blog, most of it I already do but the newest freshest idea was the ending item of what areas are communicating and what areas are for decisions. I love to have this laid out. Typically most meetings begin with the communicating and as soon as someone has a thought they want to make a decision on it and you are not even done communicating the entire item.

    Thanks for the fresh look!

  17. Nov 18, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    This is SO ironic - the timing of the post. I am training Business leaders to lead the vision and shepherd the people.

    In meetings or public speaking, we suggest they arrive early to “mingle”; to recognize filters that people may be listening/hearing through; consider personality types to make meetings MORE effective. Sound sissy?

    For example: I learn from thinking and the best ideas occur after I have time to sit on information, map things out in my head. I then usually have unique ideas. Brainstorm on the fly and I will have something much better - later! It’s very interesting research.

    It is almost the exact opposite. In my Big 5 public accounting firm, this is post is how we always held meetings, they were effective, but the people were dead.

  18. Nov 19, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    love it! I’ve been trying to give new life to our Big Idea meeting and having the agenda on the white board has been HUGE! Also, laying down the law with the text messaging and emailing has helped too

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