How to Make Your Meetings Happy and Productive—3 Questions You Can Ask

dennis 50 percentwebGuest blogger, Dennis Fischman left a senior management position at a nonprofit organization to found Communicate! Consulting.

We love talking with friends.  We hate going to meetings.  Why?

Too often at meetings and conferences, we’re listening to people we don’t know, talking about an agenda that doesn’t matter to us.

With friends, we can share not only thoughts and plans, but hopes and dreams–the things that make us get out of bed in the morning–the things that make us human.

If only we could invite people to bring their whole humanity to the conference room. But how?  Ask these three questions.

1. How You Got Here

“What is the winding path of your life, that has brought you to the work you do?” Hildy Gottlieb of Creating the Future asks this question at the beginning of every event.

Every time I begin a training or facilitation or even sometimes a keynote address, I ask people to turn to their neighbor and spend a few moments asking and answering those two questions. Every time, the room comes alive with chatter and laughter and gesticulating hands.

Try asking this question at the start of your next Board meeting.  See how happy and productive the rest of the meeting becomes!

2. The Awesome Thing that Happened

Marc Pitman, The Fundraising Coach LLC, begins training sessions with the question “What is something amazing that happened to you this week?”  Hildy Gottlieb asks the same question at the beginning of every Board meeting.  Why?  She quotes Hank Green:

There are two ways to make the world a better place. You can decrease the suck, and you can increase the awesome… And I do not want to live in a world where we only focus on suck and never think about awesome.

If your meetings feel like a great big time suck, start them with awesome.

3. What You Will Remember

You’ve come to the end of your panel, or conference, or meeting, and it was grand.  Really.  But you have phone and email messages and a long to-do list awaiting you.  How do you remember what you learned, and carry the experience into your daily work?

Hildy Gottlieb suggests giving yourself the rare pleasure of reflection.  At Creating the Future:

We ask folks to look over the notes they may have jotted down during the meeting, and to share what in particular stood out for them about the meeting.   It is again very grounding to learn about each other in this way. And it is also a great segue to ongoing email conversations that can carry us through to the next board meeting.

Talking about what matters to you will help you remember.  Listening to what other people care about will help you pull together as a group.  Knowing that you will make time to do both will make your meetings happier and more productive.

Try it and see!  How do you make your meetings productive?  Share your strategies here.

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Guest Blogger on August 13, 2014 in Staff and Consultants | 0 comments
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