The Secret to Holding a Meeting that Gets Results

Does this sound familiar? You went to a meeting where you had invigorating discussions, examined alternatives, came up with a cool plan of action, everyone left the meeting feeling motivated, and then six weeks later you get back together. As everyone enters the room and takes their seat, there are sideways glances, “Did you do that thing we talked about?”

“No…how about you?”

A quick shake of the head and you realize that the great idea everyone talked about has languished.

The prior meeting, the discussions, the new meeting – all of it – are a waste because nothing happened. In fact, it’s worse than doing nothing because now you’ve created negative energy…that feeling that “it doesn’t matter what we talk about because nothing really changes around here.” That corrosive malaise will eat away at your people and leave them looking for excuses to take your next meeting via conference call so they can multi-task and “get real work done.”

Every meeting you hold should produce activities that move results forward, build momentum, and build morale with healthy relationships. You can achieve all this in just ten minutes at the end of every meeting.

The Best 10 Minutes of Every Meeting

At the end of every meeting ask these three commitment questions:

Commitment #1:  Who will do what?

There are actually two questions here:

  1. What is to be done?
  2. Who will do it?

Every task must have a specific person who is responsible to complete it. For smaller decisions there might be only one or two answers to this question. For larger strategic initiatives you might have an entire work plan that outlines dozens of tasks and people responsible.

Commitment # 2 By When?

This one is straightforward. What is the finish line for the tasks people have agreed to complete? When these deadlines are shared and publicly available, everyone is more likely to meet them.

Commitment #3 How Will We Know?

“How will we know?” is the magic question that moves your meeting from good intentions to real-world impact. It’s also the one managers most frequently ignore. “How will we know?” closes the loop from intention to action and creates momentum without you having to spend hours every day tracking down action steps. Here’s how it works: When someone completes a task, what do they do next?

  • Do they need to pass the results to another person or group?
  • Should they update the team and let them know?
  • Will they make a presentation of their findings?
  • Do they report completion in a common area or software?

The specific answers depend on the task and project. What matters is that the accountability and next step are “baked into” the decision. Everyone knows what he or she is accountable to do, the team knows if it’s been completed, and no one is left waiting around for information they need.

Combine these commitments into one sentence: Who does what, by when, and how will we know? and you have the Winning Well Meeting Formula to get clarity, accountability, and results in just ten minutes at the end of every meeting: In fact, you can ask these questions whether you are the positional leader of a group or not. That’s a great way to establish yourself as a leader who gets things done – people notice when you produce clarity, accountability, and results. Don’t let the simplicity of these questions fool you into not using them.  These are the most important ten minutes you’ll spend to make your meetings achieve results.

Winning WellExciting news, the book I’m David Dye and I are publishing is off to the AMACOM for publication this Spring. We’re jazzed and honored that Marshall Goldsmith wrote a smashing foreward. More to come, but in the meantime here’s a peek at the cover.

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Posted in Energy & Engagement, Results & Execution and tagged , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

8 Comments

  1. I think that holding regular meetings also helps. Also, I have found that holding in a smaller room that just hold the number coming often produces a better result than a big room. Somehow being close helps people take action.

    • Mary, Thanks so much for sharing your ideas! I agree consistency is key. I had never thought much about room size before, but you are so right!

    • Alli,
      Awesome. It works with children too 😉 P.S. our parents guide to leadership continues to get lots of downloads 😉

  2. I hear your pain, Karin. I’ve wasted so much time in meetings that produce no results and go on forever.

    First, I always start meetings with an agenda—and I stick with it. If a topic is going to take longer than time budgeted, it is either sidelined for a separate discussion or picked up again at the next meeting with specific focus on details to be discussed.

    Second, it sometimes pays to ask people a simple question such as: what did you hear as a result of our meeting today? It’s interesting how often people say, “I’m not sure. I need clarification on…” What is clear in the minds of some do not always reach the ears of others.

    Great topic, Karin!

    • LaRae,
      Oh I love that question “what did you hear as a result of our meeting today.” Perfect.

  3. Excellent article on having successful outcomes from meetings! I love all three of your commitments.

    I would just add that before any meeting, make sure there is a purpose and make sure the necessary people are there. I recently attended a meeting where the decision maker was absent and that made for a continuation of the meeting at the outset. It’s so frustrating when meetings turn out to be unproductive especially when actions decided are ignored.

    Thanks Karin for another great post!

    • Terri, GREAT add. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to go through it all again with the right people.

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