So, did you make any 2022 New Year’s resolutions regarding business meetings?
If you’re thinking, “I sure did – I resolved not to go to any!” – you’re not alone. About now, we’re all thinking that a world without business meetings certainly would be a world with more free time and less worry about whether your mute button is on or off.
But it would also be a world with fewer opportunities to collaborate towards a common goal. And since business meetings are here to stay – at least for the foreseeable future – let’s all see if we can find ways to make them more enjoyable, productive, and efficient. Figuring out the mute button is always a good place to start, but this post provides some other ideas, too.
1. Be prepared.
I’m not a Boy Scout – but I sure do love the group’s motto: Be prepared. Readiness is underrated. And if you’ve drifted into a regular habit of winging it, this resolution’s the one for you.
Getting ready for a meeting goes hand in hand with your service to the group. If you’ve made a commitment to serve on a board or committee, or to attend a membership meeting, the best way to make the time meaningful (for yourself and everyone else) is to be prepared.
Review the materials for the meeting ahead of the meeting, not during the first five minutes or in the middle of the meeting once a topic becomes controversial. If you review the materials and have questions, contact the staff before the meeting to ask those questions. You might find that the answers end up benefiting other attendees as well, or that your perspective on a topic was misinformed. Either way, getting the answers beforehand can save everyone time in the meeting.
If you’re leading a meeting, then take some time to make sure the agenda is in the right order, that non‑controversial items are handled by consent (big timesaver!), and that committee reports are ready to go.
2. Make your comments count.
In my experience, when groups want and respect someone’s opinion, it’s because the listeners value two qualities in that individual: (1) They appreciate that the person speaks less often than everyone else, and (2) they appreciate that when the person does speak, thoughts are organized and measured. In other words, people who talk a lot and don’t take time to arrange their thoughts or offer them from a posture of kindness often are less effective.
So, as you think about your board meeting attendance this year, consider whether listening more and talking less, or perhaps lowering your decibel level a bit might help you make more headway on the most important issues.
If you’re leading meetings, don’t miss your opportunity to help the group if there are speakers who seem to hog the mic or dominate. Check out earlier posts for tips on how to effectively guide discussion in a way that ensures more voices are heard and both sides of an issue are discussed.
3. Learn one new procedural rule.
You don’t need to be an expert in parliamentary procedure or Robert’s Rules to lead meetings well or be a good contributor. But understanding the basics does help. What about deciding to learn one new rule this year? Here’s some ideas:
Here’s a challenge for you: Pick one of the “Business Meeting Resolutions” listed above, and stick with it. Chances are, you’ll find business meetings have a different feel for you by the end of this year. Maybe you’ll actually look forward to them!