Have you ever gone to a meeting where the meeting leader just shared facts and figures? What do you remember from that meeting? Perhaps you were able to capture the information but were your emotions stirred? Were you excited to go act on the information?
Daniel Goleman in his books on emotional intelligence (Emotional Intelligence, Working with Emotional Intelligence) suggests that it our emotions that guide us and propel us to pursue our dreams.
Next time you are leading a meeting, think about how a short story, anecdote or real-life example can “flesh” out and bring life to the facts that you are relaying.
Let’s talk about what a story is. In an essay entitled, “Praise of Stories,” Daniel Taylor writes, “A story is the telling of the significant actions of characters over time. Each element is important, both in the stories of literature and in those that shape our own lives. Remove or fail in any of these elements and you no longer have a story.” As Mr. Taylor says, “The central things that happen in important stories don’t happen to a character, but within a character. This is why significance is part of our definition of stories – the telling of significant action. Most writers on stories would agree that the best stories are about morality, values, and choices that we can relate with.
So stories are the telling of significant journeys with meaningful characters whose principled choices help us see ourselves.
Think about the stories you cherish. Did they not stir something within you? I would venture to say that stories can ignite us to think about things in new ways, ignite our spirits and emotions to actions, and enable us to see ourselves.
If you are feeling stagnant in your career or life…if you are desiring a boost to your service to your customers…if you feel the need to get out of your rut…if you are looking for new perspectives… I would encourage you to read a story.
An effective way to build community in a meeting is to allow time for moments of celebration. We all can think of the negatives in the workplace –which frequently get attention like the squeaky wheel. So it’s important to celebrate the positives. When we focus on the positive, we can build a sense of community and positive energy. Here are a few ways you can incorporate celebration in your meeting:
- Spend the first 10 minutes of your meeting allowing people to share good news
- Structure time during your meeting to honor individual accomplishments
- Celebrate team wins in ways your group enjoys that fit your corporate culture and budget
- Allocate time for people to recognize the positive contributions of others
- Ask meeting attendees what celebration is meaningful for them and implement it
- Celebrate people’s Birthdays and work anniversary dates every month
- Bring fun food to a meeting
Positive news doesn’t have to take much time but the benefits can last longer than that meeting and maybe past the next one, too! Make room for the positives, and your team will celebrate you!
Have you ever been to a meeting where the meeting leader so focused on the agenda that he/she didn’t seem to “flex” with what the audience desired? One way you can prevent this from happening is to structure short “check-in” times during your meeting. You want to create an environment where your attendees are actively involved and engaged with the discussion and outcomes and can let you know how they are feeling or thinking. Here are some ways you can incorporate short check-in’s in your meeting:
Ask open-ended questions:
- How is everyone doing? Do we need to take a break?
- At the start of a meeting, ask this question:
- What is the biggest issue you want us to focus on in our meeting?
- At the middle or end of the meeting, ask these three questions:
- What things do I need to continue doing as a meeting facilitator?
- What things do I need to stop doing as a meeting facilitator?
- What things do I need to start doing as a meeting facilitator?
- “Before we go on to the next topic on our agenda, I’d like to hear from you your questions or thoughts. What questions can I answer?”
- Say, “Each one of you has a sticky note – go ahead and jot your thoughts about this issue – without putting your name on the note – place it on this flip chart.”
- “Talk with 2 or 3 people who are sitting around you and share what you believe to be the biggest obstacle in implementing this decision.”
By checking in with your meeting attendees, you can ensure that you engage your audience – which enhances relationships, your credibility, and their buy-in!
The third step in creating a memorable meeting is to allow for freedom. Within a structure, a meeting can thrive. It is planned and organized to make good use of everyone’s valuable time. That is when creativity and innovative ideas can flourish. Make sure your meeting allows for fun, community, creativity, and relationship building There are a myriads of ways to add fun and community building to a meeting (we’ll discuss some ways in the next 3 Blogs).
What does “freedom” look like in a meeting? Here are some examples:
- Free flow of information and energy
- Creative brainstorming where every idea is acknowledged and valued
- No one person dominating the meeting or discussion
- Ideas building upon another
But note – for a meeting to have this kind of freedom – it means there needs to be the structure of an agenda – where agenda topics and time allocations – are clearly delineated for everyone. Stay tuned for the next 3 BLOG entries that will focus on how you can allow for fun, community, creativity, and relationship building in a meeting.