How to Lead Motivating Meetings

How many boring meetings have you endured? Dozens, hundreds, dare I say…thousands.

It’s unfortunate that meetings have received such a bad rap. Meetings can be informative, inspiring, and motivating, yet so many managers have created them to be tedious and wearisome.

Face-to-face meetings are challenging enough as it is, and now with a more dispersed workforce leaders have to manage keeping teleconferences remotely interesting or they risk losing the audience to multitasking.

Whatever setting you are in, to run good meetings you have a plan to make every team interaction focused and meaningful. You have to continually give attention to engaging people into the purpose and outcomes you want to achieve.

Patrick Lencioni, in his book Death by Meeting, encourages leaders to have 4 different kinds of meetings. Having different types of meetings lets people know the duration and the intended outcome for each meeting. It also keeps the focus of the meeting from getting sidetracked by conversations that address issues that are not related to the current meeting. The 4 types of meetings Lencioni suggests are Daily Check-In, Weekly Tactical, Monthly Strategy, and Quarterly Off-Site Review.

The Daily Check-In

The Daily Check-In is self-explanatory. The goal is to briefly share important administrative information for that day. This meeting should only be 5-10 minutes long and nobody should be sitting down for them. This kind of daily meeting is very good for teams that rely on one another often and must share information daily. It is not recommended for teams that do not have important daily information to share.

Death By MeetingThe Weekly Tactical

The purpose of the Weekly Tactical meeting is to check-in on key administrative and tactical information that is related to team’s goals for that week. For many teams the meeting will include monitoring key metrics and resolving major obstacles and issues. It’s important that the team does not use this meeting to create strategy. Another rule of thumb for the Weekly Tactical meeting is to not have a set agenda at the beginning (with the exception of ongoing metric reporting). After the group has identified key obstacles, the team leader should communicate the agenda for how the rest of the meeting time will be used. Most teams can achieve their goals for this kind of meeting within 60-90 minutes.

The Monthly Strategic Meeting

The purpose of the Monthly Strategic meeting is to focus on issues that affect the long-term success of the team. Teams can use this meeting to analyze progress toward goals, create new goals, brainstorm, and discuss direction for the coming months. Plenty of time should be given to this meeting for dialogue and planning. Schedule this kind of meeting for two hours at a minimum.

The Quarterly Off-Site

This kind of meeting is used by the team to think long-term, analyze trends, address personnel and team issues, and team building. Successful “Off-Sites” will include many of the tactics found in this book. The off-site meeting should be scheduled for 1 to 2 days away from the office if at all possible.

I also recommend the book Boring Meetings Suck by Jon Petz. If you are serious about changing the way you run meetings and becoming a better meeting leader, you need to read this book. Jon’s ideas are unconventional and innovative. You will also enjoy his humorous style of writing.

boring meetings suckPetz suggests 7 types of meetings you may want to try. You can learn more about each of these meetings and many other tips by reading his book.

The “Open House” – Opening a bridge or room for people to come and go providing their ideas or discussing an issue at anytime during a specified period of time.

The “Pass the Buck” – Share meeting leadership with other team members.

The “Stand It Up” – All meeting participants stand during the meeting.

The “Triple T Your Way to New Ideas” – Don’t outlaw technology. Utilize texting, tweeting, and other technology to enhance meeting collaboration.

The “Two ‘n Out” – Just like ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption, each agenda item gets 2 minutes and the buzzer sounds and you move to the next agenda item.

The “Step it Up” – Take the meeting on a vigorous walk or stair climb. This is also a great way to burn calories and increase energy.

The “I Gotta Use It” – The meeting is over when the first person has to take a restroom break.

Here are some other ideas you might find helpful to lead motivating meetings.

  • Before the meeting, communicate your expectation for each person’s attendance.
  • Bring energy with your voice (especially on conference calls).
  • Bring energy with your body movement and facial expressions.
  • Use web-cameras if you for virtual calls.
  • Utilize web-meeting applications to share videos, documents, and presentation slides.
  • Utilize web-polling or text polling and feedback technologies.
  • Allow 3-5 minutes at the start of the meeting to make small talk.
  • Start the meeting with the purpose, focus, goals, and intended outcomes.
  • Monitor all employee involvement and ask for the thoughts of those who have been quiet during discussions.
  • Facilitate openness, honesty, and different perspectives.
  • Stop yourself or other presenters at least every 4-5 minutes and ask the team if they have questions or comments.
  • Take a 5 to 10 minute health-break at least every hour during longer meetings.
  • Don’t try to squeeze a large agenda into a small amount of meeting time.
  • Get others involved in presenting information (you may need to coach them on voice and presence).
  • Use humor (appropriately).
  • Build learning and development into the meeting utilizing an article (preread) and team discussion.
  • Don’t let the team beat a dead horse. Stop a discussion that is not progressing toward the goal of the meeting.

 Top Photo Courtesy of Ambro at