Even the most experienced leaders can fall into traps when it comes to leading meetings. Here are five mistakes leaders need to avoid to lead better meetings:
1. Waiting before everyone is present to start the meeting. Are your meetings not starting on time because not everyone is present? If you delay the start time until everyone shows up, you are sending several messages. The first message you are sending to those who arrive on time is that their punctuality is not important and appreciated. They have no motivation to be on time for the next meeting. The message you are sending to those who show up late is that being late is acceptable, You are relaying that they will not miss anything when they are late. This is a slippery slope, and leads to increased tardiness going forward. I have worked with some organizations who have told me that the true start time is ten minutes past the scheduled start time. Why do this to yourself and every other team member attending?
2. Waiting for side conversations to stop before starting the meeting. Extroverts will start conversations before the meeting starts. They are not doing it to be disruptive. Being talkative is their natural wiring. When they see an opportunity to talk, they will! It does not mean that as the leader of the meeting you need to wait until those conversations are over before you start. Jump in and let everyone know the meeting is starting.
3. Failure to ask for input from quiet team members. I often hear complaints from leaders that they only hear from the same people in meetings while everyone else remains silent. Some of your more introverted team members will not speak up in a meeting unless they are called on. Give those quieter team members a heads up that you want to hear from him after you hear from some of the extroverts who normally speak up. Click on this VIDEO about how to get introverts to speak up in meetings:
4. Failure to assign an owner and a deadline to each action item or idea. Lots of ideas and action items are generated during meetings, and often they land with no owner and no deadline. Therefore, they are never implemented or even started! As the leader, be responsible for making sure that every idea or deliverable has an owner and a deadline.
5. Failure to interject when someone is getting off track or talking for a long period of time. We have all seen this happen at meetings. As the leader of the meeting, everyone is looking to you to intervene and get things back on track. Don’t think of it as an interruption; rather, think of it as an interjection. You are interjecting by saying, “I know you have thoughts around this; however, we need to get back to the agenda/hear from someone else.”
Do you have ways of making sure you are leading meetings with excellence? If so, please share them in the comments!