Some time back I watched the hindi movie ‘Jaane bhi do Yaaro’? Two protagonists trying to uncover the corruption is the theme of the movie. Towards the end of the movie there is this scene where the audience in the movie is watching a drama (Mahabharata) on the stage. That is when the corrupts and the protagonists while chasing each other enter the stage and starts the confusion; chaos and a hearty laughter. Dhritarashtra has just one dialogue after bout of chaotic movements on stage “ye kya ho raha hai” (What’s happening).
Watch it here : Jaane bhi do yaaro-Mahabharata scene
If you have re-lived the scene, now think of the meetings you are required to conduct or be a part of. Do you see some similarities to this scene happening in most of the meetings, be it your office; society or community meetings?
We don’t see such a dramatic picture in office meetings though. But my point is simple. More meetings; more time per meeting; higher confusions and less output.
How do you really overcome this and make your meetings more effective and meaningful?
Here are the 5 things that have helped me greatly.
Quite obvious you will say. However my experience while training teams on this subject is different. Many of them discover that the precision with which the agenda needs to be communicated does not happen most of the times. So you have people wondering what they are supposed to do or contribute during the meeting.
- Keep attendees number not more than 7 :
I took this clue from a reference to the book “Yes, you can make meetings more productive” by Michael C Mankins. The rule of 7 states that every attendee over seven reduces the likelihood of making good, quick, executable decision by 10%. So once you hit 16 to 17, your decision effectiveness is basically zero. Just check if this has been the reality for you in your meetings as well.
Having orderly meeting does not mean that participants do not get to voice their thoughts on the subject. In an attempt to keep the meeting well within decided timelines we may miss this important point. Participants should be encouraged to share their ideas and thoughts. I have seen a friend of mine use this quite effectively. There is a free and healthy discussion on various issues during the meeting and yet in many cases he and his team are able to close the meeting on time. He says he uses the ‘Solution Bias’ method with is team while putting the divergent views. This means the persons putting their views also have to offer at least one solution to the problem they are raising. He says the method helps the discussion go towards finding more solutions than just putting problem statements on to the table.
- Use the KIS principle :
This is an overused phrase but less practiced. Keep It Simple (KIS) is not as simple as it sounds. We are wired to make things complex. So how do we keep it simple? Especially when the agenda or problem statements at hand may be complex in nature? One of the trainees has shared an idea she uses to keep things simple. She encourages the attendees to share the problem in one sentence and offer solution in two to three statements. Try this, it’s difficult initially but the results will surprise you.
If you want people to know what the outcome is, who is supposed to do what and by when, this point is very important. Keeping proper minutes and effectively summarising the outcomes to close the meeting have proved to be very effective. We have seen better execution bias when the meetings were summarised well. While the attendees will receive the minutes on mail, you may want to encourage them to take notes for their relevant action points. Do share your experience.