Conquering Meeting Madness | Carpenter Smith Consulting | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
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Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Conquering Meeting Madness Introduction


    • 2.

      Assess the Need


    • 3.

      Creating a Winning Agenda


    • 4.

      Key Roles and Rules


    • 5.

      When Meetings Derail


    • 6.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Meeting Madness occurs when people are spending more time in meetings talking about working than actually doing the work that they're talking about! 

More and more, we work with clients who are fed up with the number of meetings they attend, so we've developed a formula to help you conquer meeting madness.

In this 25 minute class, I'll review this formula which consists of 4 keys steps you can take to ensure that the meetings you run are as dynamic and productive as possible. This formula can help you run great meetings that respect the time and talents of those you invite.

If you're not the owner of the meetings you attend, these 4 steps can help you share with the owners the reasons why the meetings you do attend might not be working. (Remember, you must be respectful when trying to influence others - they may be very attached to their meetings even if purely out of habit.) 

This class will also teach you what to do when meetings get derailed. All meetings get derailed from time to time, so knowing what to do about it is an important step. 

Better meetings go a long way toward stellar results. Come with me now to go discover the keys to a great meeting.

See you in class!

- Stephanie

Meet Your Teacher

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Carpenter Smith Consulting

Inspiring Leaders • Changing Lives


Hello, we're Carpenter Smith Consulting.

We are passionate about coaching others on how to be leaders in their lives. Our belief is that we all have greatness in us and sometimes we just need a little guidance to tap into it. Through simple steps, we'll engage, educate, and inspire you to become that great leader, and we'll help you change your life.

In over 20 years of working as professional Coaches and Consultants, we've become keenly aware of the challenges facing individuals, teams, leaders, and the companies where they work. The common theme that we hear in our work is the sense of being worn out and worn down--a far cry from the inspired leader they once envisioned themselves becoming.

Whether you're an executive, a manager, part of a work team, or an individ... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Conquering Meeting Madness Introduction: Hi, I'm Stephanie Smith with Carpenter Smith Consulting. I'm here to teach you about conquering, meeting madness. We've had so many clients, say to us, "I can't get my work done because all of my time is spent in useless meetings." Does that sound familiar? Meetings are supposed to be a means to success, but most people in organizations and elsewhere describe meetings as a time suck that actually prevents them from getting their work done. Meetings are important. They facilitate discussion, allow you to share information, offer an opportunity to inspire passion and commitment, and create space for shared visioning and planning. They also open time for laughter, building history, and creating a sense of 'we' and supporting people to walk away aligned behind a goal. Now in this video series, Conquering Meeting Madness, I'll be covering four key steps to take that will help you make sure you're in the right meetings and that those meetings you are in are as dynamic and productive as possible. In the next four videos, I'll walk you through number 1, assessing the need. To help people figure out how to stop meeting madness, we have identified the three most important aspects of meeting development. You must determine the right reason for the meeting, at the right time, for the meeting with the right people in the meeting. Number 2, creating a winning agenda. Creating an agenda is critical to creating successful meetings because it can intentionally focus the efforts of the group. Number 3, key roles and rules. Assigning key roles and setting up some agreed upon ground rules can be so helpful in creating meetings that run well. Number 4, when meetings derail. There are a variety of ways that meetings derail. Participants get stuck in one groove and can't move on, emotions flare and disrupt progress. When this happens, there are a few things you can do that can help you get back on track pretty quickly. The more efficient your meetings are, the more engaged and collaborative the participants will be. Everyone hates to waste time. Using their time wisely is not only smart, it's also a key leadership strategy. Whether you are a manager or an individual contributor, you're meeting skills can make or break your success. Don't get caught up in meeting madness. Join me in this short, but to the point class that we'll talk you through the four key steps to running a successful meeting. I'll see you in the next video. 2. Assess the Need: Hi, I'm Stephanie Smith, and this is Assessing the Need. As consultants, we hear a lot of complaints about meetings. We hear that there are too many, they eat up the bulk of the work week and most of them are ineffective. From our perspective, the only reason to get three to five, or even 10 or more people in a room is so that when they leave, they are able to be more effective. They leave with information that creates confidence. They leave feeling that they have influenced decisions that are important. They leave having solved the issues that were in the way, and they leave ready to create greater success. To help people figure out how to stop meeting madness, we've identified the three most important aspects of meeting development. You must determine the right reason, at the right time, with the right people. First, let's look at the right reason. The right reason means that you have a reason for getting together. Sometimes it's to plan for something, other times it's to make a decision, and still, other times the reason may be to support the culture of the organization. The right reason means that there is a clear and understandable purpose for bringing people together to work collaboratively. The purpose might be tactical, as in, we need to review the first round of graphics or it might be strategic. We need to determine the tone for the next campaign. But in either case, the purpose is clear to the participants and they will likely know how to prepare for that meeting. To test if you have a good right reason, attendees should be able to answer the question why. You should be able to say, we need to meet in order to fill in the blank. Unfortunately, too many people still spend hours in meetings that are hold overs from days gone by. If you're in a meeting that doesn't have a clear purpose, it might be useful to dig into it a bit and understand the why of the meeting. If you're in control of the meetings that you attend, then it might be a good idea to do a little meeting sorting and selecting. First, write down the meetings that you're typically a part of. Then for each of them, think about what's the purpose of this meeting. If you can't define the purpose, you might want to rethink the meeting and either give it a purpose or get rid of it. If you're not in control of meetings, it's also okay to check with your manager or the meeting lead to understand the meeting's purpose and to determine if your participation is appropriate. Of course, you want to do this respectfully and with a sense of personal leadership about the work you could be accomplishing if you weren't in so many meetings. Now, let's talk about the right time. Whether you're a team leader or you own a small business, you might think that you should meet frequently to show progress, and sometimes that can backfire. Meetings that are poorly timed often feel like meeting for the sake of meeting. Go back to your list of meetings and think about the timing of the meetings. Are they relevant to the day-to-day activities? If you're meeting about something that is too far into the future, it might be premature to meet about it today. Or you may decide it may be imperative to meet about it today because you need to lay the groundwork. You need to make the call based on the purpose of the meeting. The right time is also about the length of the meeting. Now, most of us can probably cut back the time of each meeting that we're in by at least 30 minutes without any real issues. We humans have this problem of filling the time we're allotted, whether we need it or not. Make sure that your meetings are only as long as they need to be and if they're over an hour, you should consider trimming them to an hour or less. Lastly, I want to talk about the right people. Good meetings have the right people in the room who need to be in the room, no one else. Too many times we see there are too many people are brought into a room when most of them have nothing to contribute. Again, go back to the list of meetings you're creating and make sure that you know who needs to be part of the conversation. To make that decision, it's probably best and most helpful if you look at the purpose of the meeting. If you're talking about sales, it might be very important to have the sales team there, but it might make more sense to have the marketing team there. As you can see, one topic could mean that you need different players. So determining the purpose of the topic will really help you decide who to include. Meetings should be held when there is something to be communicated and that something is best communicated when everyone who is in the room needs to be there therefore, you have the right people. If an important participant is unable to make the meeting, then it's usually better to postpone the meeting. Otherwise, people will fill the time with information that might all change when the right people are in the room. Now quick note, the needs of organizations and projects change. Therefore, it's very important to reassess the need for your meetings and the success of their structure every six to 12 months. Things can dramatically change in that amount of time and it's important that you don't take up hours of people's time if the need no longer exists. This will also give you a chance to consider if there is a meeting that needs to happen that's not currently scheduled. Meetings are important. They facilitate discussion, allow you to share information, offer an opportunity to inspire passion and commitment, and create space for shared visioning and planning. They also open time for laughter, building history, and creating a sense of we, and supporting people to walk away aligned to behind a goal. Spend some time reviewing the meetings you currently have in your schedule and see how well they fit the concept of the right reason, the right time, with the right people. I'll see you in the next video where we'll be talking about creating a winning agenda for your meetings. 3. Creating a Winning Agenda: Hi, I'm Stephanie Smith, and this is create a winning agenda. No discussion of meetings would be complete without reviewing the importance of creating and using an agenda. An agenda is to a meeting as our skeleton is to our body, it provides the structure that allows the meeting to successfully come to life. Now, research on meetings has shown that whatever the group starts discussing first is what they are likely to focus the most time and energy on, even if that something is completely off topic. Therefore, creating an agenda is critical to creating successful meetings because it can intentionally focus the efforts of the group. An agenda should include sections for, number 1, hot topics, things that need to be addressed and responded to today. Number 2, ongoing efforts framed as questions to be answered. These include a summary of where the efforts are currently and what needs to be discussed to continue forward movement. The shift to a question format can dramatically help focus the discussion. Think of the difference between these two topics, statements, personnel and how do we increase retention in engineering? The question focuses the discussion and identifies the solution that is needed. Number 3, parking lot. This is a great space to put ideas or topics that come up in the meeting that aren't on the agenda. When considering using the parking lot for a meeting, it may be helpful to advise the meeting attendees up front that you are going to be doing so. For example, you can say something like, we've got a set amount of time for this meeting and my goal is to make sure that we stick to the agenda. If I feel you're going off topic, I'll add your comments to the parking lot for review at another time. Number 4, ideas and innovations. This is time to consider ideas that are emerging as the work unfolds and to identify if and how they will be addressed going forward. This is more than a parking lot. When you add this focus to a meeting, you create agreed upon commitments to follow up in a specific time frame even if that's 6-12 months out, or you do nothing, if that genuinely makes sense. Within each topic, you also want to have a couple of things. Number 1, goal and process. It is important up front to identify which topics are on the agenda to provide information which need discussion and exploration and which need a decision. It's also powerfully helpful to name the process that will be used to get those results. Number 2, note the agreements and the action items. Every meeting, every time. It's amazing the number of times teams have great discussions, make thoughtful decisions, and plan out actions to move forward and yet they don't find a way to track and utilize their success. It's important to capture the thinking as it unfolds so that the people leave the meeting with a clear plan of action to move forward. Creating successful meetings takes time and preparation up front, but there is tremendous payoff for you and your team when you do. When meetings go well, each individual leaves feeling it's been time well spent and that they have what they need to move forward effectively in their jobs. Take some time to commit to creating useful, relevant agendas that bring out the best thing your team has to offer. I'll see you in the next video where we'll cover the key roles and rules to defeat meeting madness. 4. Key Roles and Rules: Hi, I'm Stephanie Smith, and this is key roles and rules. Assigning some key roles to a meeting is a great way to engage others on the team and to keep things running smoothly and on schedule. We've got four key roles for you to help you run an effective meeting so that your team stay engaged, your meetings stay on track and people know the next steps. First, we have the leader. This person runs the meeting and takes responsibility for the content delivered. The leader may leave the whole meeting or ask others to lead a part or all of the meeting. This may or may not be the highest ranking person at the meeting. The leader is also typically responsible for setting the expectations and the agenda for the meeting. One of the biggest wastes of time is bringing people together who haven't had a chance to prepare for a discussion. Taking time out of the meeting to bring people up to speed should be used for emergencies only. A far better use of people's time is to have each individual read through materials, summaries, and analyses ahead of time in preparation for the meeting. Next is the note-taker. This person takes notes during the meeting and is responsible for sending them out to the team after the meeting, and is often responsible for keeping all of the files in one shared location. Be sure to let the note-taker know that he or she should speak up if he or she has missed a key piece of information or needs clarification on something. Then there's the herder. This person makes sure to keep the discussion within a topic on topic. It can be really difficult to try and run a successful meeting when people get sidetracked. Having someone with the role of herder makes it a little bit easier to call out when people get off track or they start going down a rabbit hole. One way to avoid these rabbit holes is to create a parking lot. Where items that are not on the agenda can be captured and discussed later. Lastly, there's the timekeeper. This person makes sure that each section of the agenda stays within its allotted time and is willing to speak up and alert the group when they need to get back on schedule or when they are getting close to the end of the meeting. Especially, if they haven't covered the hot topics. There is an additional role that's often added to larger teams or executive teams, and that is the role of the facilitator. Now the facilitator is responsible for the overall process of the meeting and keeping things moving, which allows the leader to fully participate in the meeting. Now this person is not typically involved in the meeting content. Their job is to keep the members of the team in dialogue and focused on creating success. Now in addition to assigning some key roles for the meeting, we found it is really helpful to collaborate on a few shared rules at the beginning of each meeting. Let's go through those rules. First, everyone is fully present. Literally, everyone puts away cell phones, laptops, tablets etc. The only exception is made for the person taking notes. Second, everyone agrees to stay on topic. If anyone starts to go down a rabbit hole or off and on an elaborate tangent, everyone agrees to refocus on the topic at hand and to add the new topic to the next agenda or to meet about it offline. Remember, this is where the herder role comes in very handy. Third, everyone honors the assigned roles. Having roles is useless unless people are willing to abide by the authority given each of these roles. Lastly, everyone and every idea is treated with respect, period. These rules are the ones that we have seen to be most successful in organizations. But that doesn't mean you won't have rules that fit for your particular needs. For instance, one organization we worked with had a rule that anyone coming late to the meeting had to buy snacks for the next meeting. Well, needless to say, very few people came late to the meetings anymore. Assigning roles and setting up some agreed upon ground rules can be so helpful in creating a meeting that runs well. But what happens when you're meeting derails? Like, really derails. In the next video, I'll cover some helpful tips on what to do when your meeting goes off the rails. See you soon. 5. When Meetings Derail: Hi, I'm Stephanie Smith, and in this video we're going to talk about what to do when meetings derail. Now that you've pause to reflect on the meetings that you're having, and you've determined that they're the right meetings, you need to then consider your plan of action for when your meetings derail, and they will. There are a variety of ways meetings derail. Participants get stuck in one group and can't move on, emotions flare and disrupt progress. People are frustrated to be recreating the wheel on a decision that has already been made, etc. We're sure you can think of a number of times where meeting has been derailed. When a meeting derails, there are a few things that you can do that will pretty quickly get you back on track. First, you can restate the reason for the meeting. For example, you could say, Remember, we're here today to make a decision about XYZ. Identifying the goal of the meeting can really be powerful. It can help you move the discussion or concerns that derailed the meeting into another forum that is specific to that issue. Usually people are bringing up something that they see as important, and so capturing it, like on a parking lot, Is a good way for them to feel seen and heard, but allows you to get back to your meeting, remind people of the agenda for the day, and create a list of other issues that need to be covered elsewhere. For example, you could say the topics you're suggesting don't seem to be on our agenda, I would like to suggest that we've capture those items and find a good time to meet about them. It's important that people who are pressing for discussions that don't belong in this particular meeting feel that their need for forum to address the issue as respected. So before the end of the meeting to determine where those issues will get addressed. If a motions flare, pause, and then ask everyone to approach the discussion with curiosity and respect. For example, if things get tense, you could say, okay, I know we have some strong opinions and I would like everyone to take a moment to pause. Our goal here is to have a good conversation that is informative and advances are understanding of the topic. Now you might also want to repeat the goal or the reason for the meeting here as well. Emotions are not problematic until they are used to hold others hostage to an idea or outcome. Pausing is usually a good way to give other people the opportunity to study their emotions, a brief break can also diffuse an emotional situation. It's very important that as the leader of the meeting, you do not allow anyone to be beaten up by other members of the team. Really, if the tension is too high, it's better to adjourn and deal with those high emotions offline and reconvene the meeting at another time. Creating effective meetings and getting them back on track when they're derailed is a critical key to organizational success. If you have 10 people in four hours of meetings each week, you spent one full workweek of time in meetings. Therefore, they most definitely needs to be further in your agenda. Well, thanks for watching. I hope that you've gotten some good takeaways that you can use in your next meeting. Please feel free to reach out to me in the comment section if you have any questions or if you'd like to share an example of how you have used this information to conquer meeting madness. If you'd like to learn about individual coaching sessions, feel free to email us at Bye now. 6. Final Thoughts: Hi, I'm Stephanie Smith. These are final thoughts about meeting madness. As we mentioned when we first got started, people today are struggling to get their work done, because all of their time is spent in useless meetings. Meetings are supposed to be a means to success, but meetings have become a time suck that actually prevent people from making headway on their list of things to do. But when done properly, meetings are important and can do a lot to facilitate discussion, share information, inspire passion and commitment, and create a shared vision and plan. In this video series, I covered the four key steps to take to make sure you're in the right meetings, and that those meetings are as dynamic, and productive as possible. So as a quick reminder, in the first video, I covered assessing what meetings are needed. We looked at the meeting formula, the right reason, at the right time, with the right people. In the second video, I covered creating a winning agenda. Agendas go a long way toward focusing the efforts, and therefore the outcome of the meeting. In the third video, I covered key roles and rules. Assigning key roles, and setting up some agreed upon ground rules, creates a meeting that runs much more efficiently. In the fourth video, I covered what to do when meetings derail. Meetings will derail. That's just a fact of life and it's important to get them back on track as soon as you realize that the group is far from the intended agenda. There is a project assignment for each of the four videos. I hope that you'll complete the assignments, and that you'll upload them so that I can see how you're doing. Research shows that if you watch a video, and then complete a short exercise, the learning from the video actually sticks better. Remember, the better your meetings are, the more engaged and collaborative the participants will be. Using people's times wisely is not only smart, it's also a key leadership strategy. Take good care, and I'll see you soon.