There are lots of rules for running a good meeting — always have an agenda, start on time, make sure no one is hungry. But this rule is more important than all others: Be a cheerleader for your objectives. When you run a meeting you have an objective and you are trying to convince everyone else to help you get there.
Here is a list of five types of meetings and how to run them.
1. The update-on-what-I’m-doing meeting
To people who are not used to running meetings all day, it’s easy to mistake a meeting for something that is purely informational. Don’t do that. You will be poorly prepared and you will look bad. After all, why give an update on what you’re doing without making people understand the value of what you’re doing? Meetings are about conveying value.
2. The get-on-the-same-page-as-me meeting
If everyone is not on the same page, it’s your fault because you’re the leader. Deal with nay sayers one-on-one, before the meeting, not in the meeting. Why gather everyone in a room to convince only a few of them to change their minds and get on your page? You don’t need a meeting for that. Each person has different issues to address, and you can’t do that in a group without offending the offender and boring everyone else.
3. The we-have-some-stragglers meeting
Let’s think about a project that is not on track. For one thing, it’s probably because only some people are behind, but not all. This is a management problem, not a group problem. To get specific people back on track, meet each straggler before the big meeting, and help them to change how they’re working. You need to understand why they’re behind and help the shift their priorities and/or work practices. Then you hold the meeting to let everyone know that the project is back on track because you have commitment from people who need to change how they’re working.
4. The no-one-is-making-this-a-priority meeting
Many teams of messed up projects are a bunch of people who don’t report directly to the team leader. But leading with no authority can actually be a path to success if it’s done right. If the leader has no authority to make the messed-up project a high priority, the way to solve this problem is not to call a meeting. You solve the problem with team members individually. Find out what their goals are and figure out how to align this project with their goals so they are excited to meet them. The big meeting is a celebration of your success at these one-on-one meetings. It’s to show everyone that they’re all committed to the team.
5. The let’s-hear-some-ideas meeting
Just because you write brainstorm on the agenda doesn’t mean people will do it. You need to make them want to. They need to feel that you will listen, that their ideas matter, that people in the meeting will be respectful.
Which brings me to the reason you have an agenda. You need to control the parameters of the meeting so that you meet your objective. The best meeting shows everyone how well the team is working, how meaningful the project is, how happy you are to be able to work with everyone. A meeting is a way to make people love working with you. Because that’s the way you will meet your objectives, whatever they are.