To improve meetings, start from the end. At the end of each meeting, ask the participants to rate it. Over time, the meetings you run will improve.
An essential part of effective leadership is running productive meetings. Here is a way to improve them that always works.
- At the end of each meeting, ask the attendees to rate the meeting in a quick, spontaneous and easy way. You can use a scale from 0 to 10.
- Go around the table and ask each participant to elaborate. Ask them what was not perfect and what can be improved.
You will learn about weaknesses in the meeting: A decision that was on the agenda was not made, too much time was spent on some topic, not everyone was heard or not all opinions considered. Perhaps the meeting went over time.
When you start this practice, initially everyone will be polite and give high ratings. But over time, when you show that you truly care about feedback, the ratings will be honest and the feedback highly useful.
The mere practice of being rated will improve the meeting. And more importantly, the next meeting will be better. You will be a better chairperson, and the attendees will be more productive participants. They know that you care about productive meetings and that you will raise the bar.
One rule to remember for you as the chairperson is to never be defensive when you get negative feedback. Never explain why you let the meeting go as you did. That’s not why people give feedback. They give feedback in order to know that they have been heard, and to improve the next meeting.
To improve the meetings that you run, you can start from the end.
After each meeting, ask the attendees to rate the meeting on a scale from 0 to 10 or whatever scale you choose.
It’s quick, spontaneous, easy to do. You go around the table and everybody gives it a grade. Then you ask them to justify why they gave a high or low number.
Initially when you do it – the first few times – people will be polite and give you 9s and 10s and maybe an 8. Over time, they’ll learn that you really value honest and direct feedback and they’ll give you the 4 or 5 or 6 when you deserve it.
Then you ask: What was wrong, what could have been improved, what could have been better in the meeting? Typically it’s a decision you didn’t make. You spent too much time on a topic that wasn’t important. Maybe you spent too much time in the meeting overall. Maybe not everybody was heard very well or not every opinion considered. All of this feedback you collect immediately after the meeting.
Interestingly, this improves the actual meeting because people walk away knowing that they were ultimately heard and that next time, it will be better. It will improve the next meeting because everybody will come to the meeting knowing that you as the chairperson really care about running productive meetings, really care about the quality of the meetings and they will come better prepared and they’ll give you better feedback next time.
The only rule when you get feedback about a meeting is: Do not get defensive and do not explain yourself. That’s not what they ask for. They want you to hear their feedback and consider it. They don’t need any explanation. So just take the feedback, thank for it, and make sure next time you fixed that problem.
If you do this over and over again, your meetings will improve. Guaranteed.