How to have better meetings

In order to have better meetings we need to fully understand the top reasons meetings go wrong.
Two people having a better meeting

Recently I had a speaking engagement with several hundred business owners in the room. I asked the question – “How many of you have had a meeting, phone call, etc., in the last week that was a waste of your time?” – 100% of the hands went up. 

Likely this has happened to you as well. When you ask people what frustrates them about business – wasted meetings, calls, Zoom’s, etc. – is always in the top couple of things on the list. Not only is this is business frustration, it is a key frustration that carries into our personal lives as well. 

Once we understand the top reasons that meetings, etc. go wrong, then (and only then) we can work to ensure that we have better meetings.

Stop wasting time

As big as this issue is, it is kind of amazing how little effort goes into really working on getting better at ensuring we do not waste our time, or that of others. 

In order to have better meetings (leadership, management, sales, team, interviews, etc.) we need to fully understand the top reasons meetings go wrong:

  1. People not fully understanding why they are meeting 
  2. Disconnect on time, place, people attending, etc. 
  3. What do the other people want, need, expect of the meeting? 
  4. What do we want, need, expect of the meeting? 
  5. What are the next steps from the meeting? 

Once we understand the top reasons that meetings, etc. go wrong, then (and only then) we can work to ensure that we have better meetings.

Up-Front Contracts are the solution

In my world as a Sandler performance coach – we help our clients learn a technique called Up-Front Contracts. This is a methodology and eventually a behavior to better uncover, set, and manage expectations. Although the concept is extremely simple, it is not easy. 

However, learning and using this technique – until it becomes a habit – will greatly transform your meetings with others.

A Sandler Up-Front Contract has five elements:

  1. Purpose – why are we meeting 
  2. Time / logistics – when (start and end), where, and who will attend 
  3. Their agenda / expectations – what do they want to learn, cover, etc. 
  4. Our agenda / expectations – what do we want to learn, ask, etc. 
  5. Outcomes / next steps – what possible outcomes and next steps could we have

Simple isn’t easy

Each of these seems simple and in concept, they are. However, it is not an easy thing to do consistently. 

This concept should not be used as a checklist, but as a conversational tool. It should sound something like this:

“Sue, I appreciate the opportunity to meet next Tuesday from 2 to 3 p.m. at our business office about your hiring needs for a sales manager. Naturally, you will want to ask me questions about our history and experience in helping with hiring such roles. It would be good for you to think about the things you are specifically looking to uncover so I can answer all of your questions. Obviously, I will need to ask you questions about history of the company, the role, how prior employees have done (not done), salary, expectations you have of them, etc. Typically, at the end of our meeting one of two things will happen; either we will decide to work together for you to engage our services, or we will decide we are not a good fit for each other at this time. Does that work for you?” 

Again, this sounds simple; however, it is not easy! Once you begin to do this, you will see tremendous improvement in how productive your meetings, calls, etc. are. Imagine being able to eliminate just one or two wasted things a week – how much more time would you have to work on the things that truly matter? 

So, let me ask – how much time/energy/money do your team and you waste on meetings, calls, Zooms, etc.? How much better could your team and you get in ensuring you do not waste these things on these meetings? If you do not know, do not like your answers, or you are not sure where or how to start, find a business growth consultant who can help.

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About Mike Crandall

Mike Crandall lives in Edmond, Oklahoma. He is a Consultant, Coach, Trainer, Speaker, and Author focused on the Subconscious Psychology of Human Interaction and Motivation. His firm specializes in Sales, Management, and Leadership Development for Proactive Business Growth. Mike is based in Oklahoma and serves Visionary Clients across the United States. He can be reached at Mike.Crandall@Sandler.com or at (405) 844-1700.