How To Meet Like a Pro: Your Guide to Running Productive Meetings

How To Meet Like a Pro: Your Guide to Running Productive Meetings

Have you ever sat through a meeting that could have been an email? Ever ended a meeting with no clarity around what is to happen next? Too often, meetings are called without true purpose and intent wasting our most valuable resource - time.  

A great meeting brings the right people together with an established intent and clear understanding of what success looks like. Meetings are a vital tool that establishes consensus, inspires innovation, and advances initiatives forward. When appropriately executed, meetings can accelerate progress and even be fun. When a meeting isn’t carefully crafted, the exact opposite outcome is the result.  

In this episode, we passionately debate what works and what drives us mad when leading and participating in meetings.  

We outline actionable steps you can implement today to allow you to scale and reach new potential.  

  • Set a clear intent and intended outcome
  • Align the right participants 
  • Gain consensus for the agenda
  • Start and end on time
  • Be in control of your meeting
  • Set the tone
  • Be concise
  • Establish and communicate clear next steps

 

Listen with us and start meeting like a pro! Have other ideas we didn’t explore? Share them with us today!  

Transcript

Welcome to Morning Coffee and Mimosas. I'm Cristina, and I'm Joe.

We are a father-daughter duo. We come here Sunday mornings, but you can come here anytime you, please. We banter about life, about business, and we do it over coffee and mimosas.

Good morning, Cristina.

Good morning, Dad. That was a nice little air guitar you had going.

Yeah. I still like that little melody.

Listeners. You can't see it, but you can live through my eyes.

If you want to! Hahaha

Hahahaha! See the world through my eyes.

Yeah.

As the music was playing, dad was, uh, rocking out to the air guitar.

Well, since I played it, I mean, I actually could do that.

You can. I can also play the air guitar. That's a musical ability I have.

Yeah, that's true. Yeah. It's the real one that's the issue.

Yeah.

 Yeah, So good to have you here this morning.

Good to be here, Dad.

There you go. Good. And since you know, this is a pretty, funny way to say what the topic is. But since we have a meeting every week,  this is about having effective meetings.

Would you say that our meetings are effective, Dad?

Hahaha, I think the listeners have to decide that, haha.

Hahahahaha

So chime in if... well, maybe we don't want to hear you hahaha, but...

This is a topic that I like because I'm going to just speak for the audience here. I'm going to tell everybody. When I say we have all been a part of many, many meetings that you leave, and you say, well, that meeting could have been an email, hahaha.

 Correct. Correct. That was a waste of time. Any number of that was blah, blah, blah, whatever.

Yeah. So, I mean, I think as we all have many experiences where we, where we look at the kind of what lays in front of us, and we say, "Man, that was probably unnecessary." Right. Or we all sort of critique what could have made that either a good use of time or how could that have been handled differently to make things more efficient.

Right.

Today, we're going to talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly as it relates to meetings that we've participated in or led ourselves, haha.

Haha

 What are things that we've learned, things that we've seen, and ways that we can ensure to have good meetings or more good meetings and more productive meetings that, you know, people enjoy? And that leads to action.

You know what? I love one thing I love about this podcast I can vent. I have a voice. I can vent. Hahaha

I have seen you vent outside of the podcast, but yes. Now, are you just happy that now you get to vent publicly?

Publicly vent. Yes.

 You get to air your grievances. Hahahahaha

Haha, yes, exactly, haha.

Hahahaha, what is that? There's a, uh, was it a family guy episode? He goes, what grinds my gears. What really grinds my gears. Yeah. Anyway,

Yeah, well, this is it.

 I digress.

No, I'm happy about this. And I liked the way you said, like that could have been an email or whatever, because I think the evolution of a meeting should be... well, um, there are many reasons to have meetings, so I'm not being overly simplistic, but I guess I kind of am in one way. It's like if you and I are emailing each other, and then you know how it gets to the point where I'm just going to pick up the phone and call you because this is getting out of hand.

 Right.

And then it's like the next step from that. Like, you know what, we just spoke, and we need to involve, whomever, whatever it is so we have a meeting, so, you know, that would be... a rationale for an actual appointment, You know, something like that.

Agreed. And I think many times it's thinking about, is there something that needs to be explained or conveyed that can't be done in an email, or if there seems to be ambiguity. You need to bring people together, get consensus and get alternate points of view, thoughts and opinions in a dynamic way. That's an excellent time to have a meeting.

Right.  And then sometimes some meetings are good. Like in other words, let's say a departmental seminar and people get together from multiple departments. Right. And then they're so good and effective that we make them monthly. And then they're so good and effective for about three months. And then they're not. You know, but we keep doing it because it's the department, you know? So this whole thing about meetings, it's... it fits everything like lives and breathes and has a cycle and whatever. And I think we shouldn't just do things because we always have, or not do them because we always have, and so on. So that's why  I was excited to talk about meetings this week.

Yeah. And that's such a good point because we've got to try and get ourselves out of the programming of,  these are the types of meetings... This is when we should have an appointment, and we should just start thinking about it as What has to happen? And for that to happen, do people need to get together? Can there be, you know, a couple of channels of communication where there's an email happening, and then it gets approval?  Or is there something we need to pull everybody together and gain consensus? And I think you're so right. Like sometimes, you have a good meeting, and then everyone's like, "Yeah, this was great. Let's do more of this." But then, suddenly, it becomes that thing that now it's like just a checkbox. Right. You're checking it off. We had our quarterly meeting. Right. But it's not; it wasn't needed then.

Or I needed to... I should have talked to you, but I said, oh, we're going to... I'll talk to her at the meeting. And then, of course, I don't write it down, or I don't record it. And then I don't remember to do that. And then, two weeks went by, and we didn't talk about it. So, this is good. Even these few minutes, we're just talking about that. Just think about, A: Do we need the meeting, and if we're not having meetings, should we have a meeting? Do you know what I mean? Like, think about that. So

 So as you're thinking about, and we're kind of breaking down, if we think about steps or ways or, you know, meeting hacks, right? What things need to be valid for a meeting to be a good meeting? I think the first thing is you've got to preplan. Have an agenda and make sure that you know the intent is clear.

Cristina, you know what, if we, uh... what are we in seven minutes? We're done. That's it! Hahaha

Hahahahaha!

That’s so good. I wish... just if you thought about it, exactly. Plan the meeting because sometimes you call the meeting and then in plan...  If you plan it ahead of time, you might realize I don't need the appointment.

Exactly.

That was very good. So say that again. It was perfect.

Haha, repeat it for the people in the back. As you are thinking...

And the idiot in front of you who wants to make sure he has it, hahaha!

Hahahaha As you are thinking about it, before you hit send on your outlook invite or Gmail or whatever you use to send, make sure that you have put pen to paper and said, "This is the meeting intent, and this is the outcome I need. If you can't define the intent and outcome, you should not plan the meeting. And then, from there, an agenda is born.

 Correct.

And I think that agenda, like anytime you send something, even if it's three bullets or a sentence, make sure that there's something that goes along with it, so the people receiving the meeting know - What is the purpose of the meeting? What's the intended outcome? So that they can start kind of thinking about what their role is in the meeting.

Correct and be able to contribute positively to that meeting. That's excellent.  And then, I'm going to add my pet peeve, which is timeliness.

That's true.

 So if you have a meeting at two o'clock and I don't care if this is Zoom, I don't care if it's just a phone call with four people and you're getting a conference call, or it's a meeting in the conference room, start on time.  And you know, and I think listeners if you know anything about me or listened to any of these episodes, I am early,  I am always early. And I'm...

 He's uncomfortably early.

Yeah. And I, I very much believe in being on time. That is a mantra of mine when it comes to meetings - as long as I'm in control - I never wait for anyone late. If we're having a meeting at one o'clock, at one o'clock that meeting starts. I don't care if I'm the only one here.

Hahahahahahahaha!

Sometimes I am. Hahahaha

Hahaha, and you just start the meeting, hahaha.

I have...

"So, Joe, what would you like to talk about today?"

 I am a stickler because of the worst thing that I hate...

He's airing his grievances, listeners.

I know. What I really get really fired up about...

Fiery Joe. I love fiery Joe.

 I'm telling you I get fired up when you're on time, and I’m on time; three people are on time. Two people are not there. And the person running the meeting says, okay, uh, let's just wait a few minutes for those people. Why, why are we waiting for the late people? No, they should come in. They should be embarrassed that they're late. They should sit down or do whatever they're doing. And no, I am not catching you up on the topic. You figure it out, pal. And if it embarrasses you...

hahahahaha

Or you screwed up because you missed the important stuff that you missed. That’s your career, buddy. But I'm telling you if you do that... I'm sorry, I'll lower my voice now. If you do that, people are on time for the next meeting when you're running a meeting. But if you continue to wait and people say, oh yeah, yeah, no, I I've got a few minutes. There's nothing wrong because if you have a problem, text me. We have a million ways to communicate. This is 2022, not 1822.

 Right.

 Text. Say what - and it better damn well be a good reason, but that's one of my pet peeves. So you start on time, and you end on time.

Well, I, and I agree with you. My biggest pet peeve with that is because I think sometimes you're running from meeting to meeting, and I'm occasionally guilty of like two minutes, right. It's like, oh, there's two minutes. So I can work on that, right? But my pet peeve is when somebody comes on late and then, like, I've seen it where somebody shows up egregiously late, right? And then it's like, we're pretty much done with the meeting. We've discussed everything, we're to the end, and we're ready to get off. And then somebody comes on, and it's like, "Oh, I'm so sorry, I was tied up" or whatever. And then we're kind of going back to the beginning for this person.

Right. That's a no-no. Never do that.

And then I'm like, wait; we were done. And we were about to get a few minutes back. And now we're, it feels like back to square one for this person. Why? Ha

Exactly. And it's terrible, and everyone hates it, and I get it, you know, I'm not entirely naive. I get it. If the person running the meeting is senior to me, I cannot control that. I get it. But if you're in one of my meetings, don't do that. Ever.

Well, everybody...

hahahahaha

Consider this your notice, hahaha.

Haha. Well, it's OK because you're not going to be in any of my meetings, hahaha. So, anyway, I think that's, you know, and it all comes around to respect. To me, it becomes part of that respect of people's time. And you're respecting people's... you value their time. So we held this meeting at one o'clock, it's supposed to end at one-thirty. You know what, let it end at one-thirty. Now I have been in sessions where things have been fantastic, and we're getting to the bottom of something or uncovering something; there’s no problem with saying, "Does anybody have a problem if we continue for 15 minutes. I want to respect your time." That's fine. I mean, I'm not, I'm not...

Right.

But don't just let it drift off because, to your point, there may be people that have another meeting, you know, to go to.

No, I agree with you. I think it's all about communication. And even to your point, if somebody does have a good reason, just communicate that. And then, you can say, "Hey, we're getting started, and we'll just catch you up." You know, "You're going to have just to catch up, and then we can connect offline."

Yeah, we'll catch up offline, and if you report to me, you'd better have a darn good reason for why that you were not there.

Oooooooof. Hahahaha!

 Hahahahaha all right. I'll get off my high horse.

I would like to take a moment, though, to go back to something. So what did we talk about now? Okay, so start and end on time. And if you're not going to end on time, make sure that you've addressed that, 

Or that people are ok with it because...

Or that people are all able to stay on.

 ... You may want to carry it to another time. Set a new meeting.

 And we talked about, you know, keeping an agenda, making sure that your outcome is clear, what it is that needs to be accomplished. I also just want to say something to that point: Gain consensus as much as you possibly can. Right? Sometimes consensus needs to be established at a meeting. But, with a customer meeting or, you know, with a group of people, give people the opportunity. And that's where, you know, sharing that in advance of, here's what we hope to accomplish through this meeting offers people the chance to say either, "Is there anything else that you see that we should be thinking about?" "Is there anybody else that needs to be a part of this to make that happen?" But give people the opportunity to tell you if something else should be there or if you might be missing something.

 Very good.

And I think that is especially true when I think about that from a sales customer-facing role. Putting out to the customer, here's what I'm thinking and letting them come back and say, well, this is what I'd like to see, or this is what's important to me. Or even style, right. I think, the type of the meeting, how do they want this to go? Do you want a presentation or do you want a conversation,

That's very good. Right.

 That kind of thing.

Yeah.  Good. And you bring up a good point. There are many reasons for a meeting. There are in-company meetings, and within department meetings or intra- or inter-department meetings; um, in your case, they're sales presentations. So you have your team, and you have the prospect, right. Or it could be post-. You've gotten the deal, and it's an implementation meeting. You know, there's any number of meetings, but all of them, to your point, should have an agenda and be clear and concise about it. Have consensus around it. So you're not wasting the prospect's time or the implementation team or anything that's going around.

Right, and I think, you know, within your own company, it's easier because you have a culture and a style and kind of a way that you work.

Right.

But I think when you're dealing with other people, whether it's vendors or potential customers. Actual customers... Every company has a little bit of a different... a little bit of a different culture, the other way they approach meetings. And I think that's where making sure that you've allowed them to weigh in and make sure the style fits will help as you're trying to drive things forward.

Yeah. And then, and also the participants. Why don't you talk a bit about the participants?

Well, I think that is... you want a limit, right? There's nothing worse than a meeting that has, you know, 15 people on it with nobody learning who's on point for their given topic. So I think it's important to be right as you're thinking about the outcome. And as you're thinking about what we have to accomplish, what is the whole purpose of having this meeting? And then who are the people that I believe, right as I'm setting this up, need to be a part of this for us to get it to the next step because that's what a meeting does, right? The whole point is to drive things forward, either making a decision or getting to the next point.

Yeah, or answer questions or present, or something. Exactly. Yeah.

So I think it's a matter of being selective about whom the right people need to be a part of this and making sure that they understand what we believe their role is in this meeting. So limit the participants and make sure that you have the right people. The people that either, you know, maybe they have the expertise, other people that have the authority. So you make sure that you've got the right people to fulfill the role. And if they can't be there, they have a delegate in their place.  So I think that's where people kind of need to understand what's the outcome and what role do you see me having in this so that they can say, yes, I'm the right person, or I need, you know, somebody else.

Yeah. Again, it comes back to - have you thought out the purpose of the meeting, have you set the agenda, and what are the goal and outcome? Everything that you said.

Right. Now to that point, dad, have you ever been the meeting organizer, and you've kind of done that, and then your meeting gets forwarded to a slew of other people. You just keep seeing acceptance from...

Oh yeah.

That's another pet peeve of mine, hahaha. You ever see that when you've got like all of a sudden your meeting is getting accepted and you're like, I don't even know who that person is. And then, you know, you start looking. I think that that's something that like, it's nice if you're going to pass it on to somebody else for there to be some justification, this is somebody else I'm engaging and why? I am don’t know.

Oh no, I agree. And I think we're all real. Things happen.

And there's only so much time in a day. I get it.

Right. But it is nice to check with the host, so for example, it's an implementation of something or whatever. You got the invite, and now you're looking at the agenda or whatever, and you say, can, I have my technical contact, you know, I, I think this might get more technical than I thought. Right? But, kind of shoot in a bit of note, just say I invited Sue to this meeting because, you know, of this.

 Well, and I think it's helpful because sometimes the more that the audience expands, it may,  and especially if that outcome wasn't clear from the person who was organizing it, you might create a challenge all of a sudden. After all, you invited somebody with no place to be a part of the meeting then.

Right.

 You know if it's going to be forwarded, if you're delegating to somebody else, if you can't be there and this is the person instead, I think it's just nice to call that out. You know, I've forwarded it to this person because X, you know.

Yeah,   Very good.  I like this.

Do you?

 And you calmed me down. So you got me, uh, you know, the whole time thing, you got it out relatively early,

 Is it because I got fired up now, you suddenly decided that now, you know, we've got to kind of like, we've got to sort of balance each other here.

Yeah. That's the whole, that's the real beauty of us, right?

Yeah. So you know, as we're talking about this dad, I thought back to our episode last week; we were talking a bit of effective communication and sometimes the urges that people have finishing sentences and interrupting. And I think that is probably another area of effective meetings that, as the organizer or participant in a meeting, it's essential to reign in.

Oh yeah. Definitely.

I would imagine. So as we bring back fiery Joe, and we think about the timeliness and the way that, you know, you, you run a meeting like a drill Sergeant, what is your approach and thought around, like, how do you handle people talking over one another or the, uh, sorry, you're on mute. You know, what, what is your, uh, hahaha...

Oh my God, there are so many, so many things. Well, first of all, the talking over,  I attempt to nip that in the bud relatively quickly. Especially if it's a meeting where people are getting a little bit animated, you have to stop that pretty quick, and you can do it nonchalantly and not insultingly. You just literally address it and just say, you know, "Okay, everybody just, hold up a minute. Sure, go ahead. Say what you're going to say, and the bill I'll let you go right after that." Like you, you have to take control, and I want to say that because, as the meeting organizer, don't be shy. You are in control. You're the leader of the meeting, even if you're not a senior person in the company, in that department, or in that group. If you call the forum,  you're the boss for that meeting. And I think it will show you as a leader, as someone competent and confident in their ability to run that. So to your point about cross-talking and, and all that, even if it's professional and even if it's not adversarial. It's just that some people just like to hear themselves talk.  End it, and do it quickly.

Well, I think it's essential to establish upfront how you want these things to work, right?

Yeah.

So depending on where the meeting is, if it's an in-person meeting, it's a little bit different, right? Cause you're all in the room. If you're on a Teams meeting, right? Or a Zoom? You also have many tools that you can use, so

Haha, Mute, hahaha.

Hahahahaha! You can mute somebody, hahaha.

 Hahaha, I love it. Best invention ever, haha!

But the problem is the person doesn't realize they've been muted, hahaha.

Oh, it's even better because then everybody knows, oh my God.

Hahahaha... But yes, you can mute people. You can also establish upfront - hey guys, you know, we've got many people on this call if you would raise your hand when you've got something to say, that little yellow hand goes up, and then you can call on people as appropriate. I will also give a shout-out to Bart Prins, who is my leader and was on our podcast not too long ago, but he does something really good where he will establish with people. And it's something that, that I've started doing as, as you know, I watch and learn, things that I think are, pretty effective is establishing for people how much time you have. So, hey guys, we're going to go around and get everybody's perspective in one minute or less. You know, we only have a certain amount of time on the call, so use your words, be succinct, and to the point. You're going to need to tell me what you're going to say to me in a minute or less.

Right. Yeah.

 I think that helps because then people have a, you know, a little bit of the pressure to say, "Okay, I've got to say what I'm going to say and say it clearly."

 Yeah. And I gotta do it quickly, so stop the, "You know, well, back when we started, we did..." Many people like to set the stage, but they want to build an entire scene, and we don't need the stage. We just need the message.

Yeah. Well, you don't need to give every single play-by-play of a conversation you had, right? Because then what's the point of me not just having that conversation.

 Right.

Just tell me what I need to know from it. Tell me the high points,

Very good. Very good! Do you want to do a recap? I feel like we did it last week, and it went really well.

I don't think we're done, dad. What are you going to read? Hahahaha!

Are we not? Oh.

Well, I think the other thing that we did...

Well, I was running an effective meeting, and I thought.

Hahahahahahaha

Hahahaha, I'm sorry, listeners. Do you have time to go a little bit longer on this? Hahaha

Hahahahaha I think the other thing, Dad, is setting the tone.

Yes. Yes.

Right? That smile, We are making sure that you've got the right level of formality, the right level of informality, and making sure that you're setting a tone for a good meeting, a collaborative meeting, all of that.

That was it? That's why we went overtime? Haha

Hahahahahahaha!

I don't know...

Well, we forgot about an important part.

What? The tone?

No, we set the tone, right? So you've got your manners set, Dad.

Ok hahaha

Dad, you're fresh, hahaha.

Hahaha

Your tone is off today, Dad, hahaha! We're setting the tone for a joke of a meeting right now, haha.

I know.

Anyway, sorry, listeners. We got off track a little bit here. But one final thing. And I think we can end with this last point, which is to have notes. And, you know, whether the meeting requires implementation meetings, they require meeting minutes. They need clear outcomes - who owns what and by when - but make sure that you've got the appropriate follow-up from the meeting to ensure that people know their actions and next steps. Because I think there's nothing worse than a meeting that, you know, you talk through a lot and then you get to the end, and you're at a time, and everyone's just like, "Okay, thanks, guys!" And then what moved forward? So make sure that you end the meeting with, going back and making sure it's clear, "Okay, Joe, you had this as your next step, and Cristina, you know, you're to do this by this point in time, and then what's next. We're going to check-in. Is there another meeting that we will have next week to finalize this? Can we go back and forth via email to, you know, firm all this up and have a decision by Wednesday?" But establishing what comes next after the meeting ensures that you did something productive with that time.

That's very good because people, it's human nature, it's like the meeting ends and it's like, " Phew, I don't think I have to do anything. This is great. I can go back to what I was doing." But with your clear takeaway... So, "Joe, you have to do this and Sue, you have to do this, and Cristina, you have to do that." That's great.

Yeah. I mean, just, I think we all have to just look at everything as our time is valuable. The other people's time is valuable and just filter: Why are we doing this? Well, why are we doing this? Why are we doing this? And if we don't have clear outcomes and all of that, then what's the point.

Yeah, two weeks go by, and it's like, nothing happened.

A meeting shouldn't just be...  It shouldn't just be a check of a box to say we had the meeting. There should be a reason for the meeting. And if we don't have the following steps and action, what was the point?

Very good. Now can you recap? Haha

Oh, man. We kind of got all over the place on this one, but I think listeners...

Well, I'm giving you a deliverable, hahaha!

Hahahahaha

Give us a recap.

All right, listeners, let me try and recap this. .. How, why don't you recap, Dad?

Um, because I can't? Hahahaha

Hahahaha at least, you know, your strengths. So, listeners, I think step one said to start on time and end on time. So that's an integral part of this; number two, make sure you've got absolute clarity in the outcome and what you need to accomplish for the meeting intent.  Gain consensus and make sure that there's a clear agenda. Stick to it. Number three, make sure you've got the right people in the room. Limit the people, right? You don't want to overdo it, but make sure you have the right people in the room. And as a recipient, if you're thinking of forwarding that meeting out to everybody in your phone book, just check first, I think, or at least make it clear whom you're delivering it to and why. So that, you know, you allow the organizer to say, you know, "Okay, I understand, you know, who’s in this meeting now," or, "Hey, you know, I think this might be getting a little bit too broad."  Make sure that you establish a suitable protocol for how you're going to handle meeting timing who talks when interruptions. Use your technology if it's in a team setting.  What else did we say, dad? Ah, clarity. So be concise. Be respectful of other people's time. Make sure that, you know, you're asking the other people, "How do you want this to go? Do you want a presentation? Do you want a conversation? What format is good?" Set a good tone. And then really, um, you know, I think the final thing is, make sure that you do something with that. Right? So if it's meeting minutes, if it's clarity of next steps and who owns what...

Assign the roles and so on.

Assign the roles and responsibilities. So I think that might be nine steps. I don't know; I lost count.

Well, the count doesn't matter.

The count doesn't matter.

 It's the brilliance that we have imparted.

 Dad...

Okay, brilliance YOU have imparted.

All right. Guys... I'm sorry. I know he makes me a little sick with the... We've got to humble you, dad.

Well, I said you.

No, you said it's the brilliance that we have.

But then you corrected me by your comebacks, hahaha.

Ay ay ay...

Unbelievable.

Anyway, dad, this was fun.

This was good. Yeah.

I enjoy you when you're all fired up.

Thank you.

So let's keep this coming. Well, maybe come up with another topic... Listeners, a challenge to you for those of you...

ahahahahaha

... that know, Joe, please send ideas for topics that will enrage him because fiery Joe may be our favorite Joe. And if you can come up with an issue that mainly grinds his gears and gives him a platform to air some more grievances, please send it our way. Hahaha

I'll take extra blood pressure medication. Hahaha, so I don't have a problem.

There you go. And listeners, if you liked what you heard, please rate, review, subscribe, send to a friend, and we appreciate you staying with us and listening each week.

We do. Thank you so much

Wherever you are, whatever your story. Thanks for spending time with us this morning. Now. Go and make a difference in your world.

Bye

bye Thanks for listening