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Satisfaction with Meetings – (3of3) Interrupts & Redirects

September 10, 2009

I’ll cut to the chase in the first paragraph on this blog.
Unbridled business meetings are inherently unsatisfying.

Put another way, meetings are like football, you need sidelines, an

end zone, and players who stop playing when either is crossed,
otherwise it just becomes a game of “keep-away” or catch. Keep reading and
let’s talk about how to change that… to make meetings more satisfying.

All meetings need direction (to an outcome), whether that is managed by
the meeting leader or moderator, or internally by the group.  But meetings
also need a way to course correct when the topic or process is no longer
relevant to the group’s intended outcome or best environment.

Think of how the following activities take away from your satisfaction with
a meeting:

1. Someone talks too long, talks in circles, monopolizes the floor…
2. The focus of the conversation drifts off topic…
3. The conversation moves from collaborative to posturing (ex. proving
a point, proving how knowledgeable one is, making my voice heard as well –
even if it has already been said or covered…)

These behaviors typically make most of us groan and look at our watch,
but they are also relatively common.  Why?

My take, is that it’s common because most meetings don’t have someone
who does an effective job at active moderation.  You know, the necessary
interrupt and redirection process that is required to do timely course
corrections and keep a meeting process in the effective sweet zone.

Do you agree?

If those behaviors are fairly common, why the lack of meeting moderation?
Is it a constitutional right to talk in meetings?  Are we discomforted by
interrupting “out of bound” behavior?  Are we afraid of making others
upset?  Maybe someone will attempt to moderate, and the person
who has the mike will just continue – like the format of the news talk
shows where people talk/shout over each other – charming.

What jumps out at me, is that many people are not very good at
self moderating when it comes to effective meeting behavior.
They struggle to contribute in short sound bytes, such that the
interaction pulls relevant information from multiple sources
and stays collaborative in nature.  This gets compounded
by the leader or the group in effect seeming to struggle with
enforcing effective meeting moderation as well.

Perhaps the answer to meeting moderation is a simple
device that anyone in the meeting can use (and that
everyone agrees to abide by) to call “time out” on
any person’s discussion.   Some groups use a bell or
something else audible.  I’m curious, what works for you?

Bottom Line:

Every effective business meeting needs someone or all the participants
to actively participate in enforcing boundaries so that the process and
content of a discussion stays aligned with the outcome.   Meeting
satisfaction seems to be directly tied to staying within the outcome bounds.
Participants who have the meeting skills to communicate in short (twitter like)
sound bytes, help to keep the meeting  process satisfyingly outcome aligned,
and interactive.

Satisfaction with Meetings – (2of3) – Attaining Outcomes is Personal
Satisfaction with Meetings – (1of3) – Reduce the Length
Meetings as a Form of Collaboration

3 Comments. Leave new

Christian von Reventlow
September 10, 2009 4:01 pm

Very true. Just coming off a meeting where a written status report by the participants with planned next steps would have been great. Reading is 3 times faster than listen to speech. Leverage that to save time.

Ralph White Business Coach
September 23, 2009 7:36 am

This is an excellent format for making meeting more productive. I am going to use it in my business coaching. Thank you for your great ideas.

learn more here
April 27, 2013 1:23 am

Fine way of describing, and good piece of writing
to get information regarding my presentation focus, which i am going to present
in school.


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