7 Tips (and 7 seconds) to Make Your Meetings Run More Smoothly

- Adrienne Evatt, MILR, MCA, MBB

Who hasn’t sat in a meeting at one time or another thinking, “I wish this was a more productive use of my time. Why aren’t more people engaging? This conversation is not value added.

Only one person is doing all of the talking.” Worse, what if this was a meeting you were leading? There are a few key facilitation and meeting tools that you can implement in your next healthcare meeting, and they can make all the difference.

Here are 7 tips (and 7 Seconds) to make your meetings run smoother.

  1. Create and use a detailed facilitator agenda: Facilitator agendas are not to be distributed to the meeting participants. By being intentional about your topic, objective, approach, materials, timing, and people, you can direct your meeting towards your goals and course-correct along the way.
  2. Do an icebreaker: There is more to icebreakers than making your meeting participants feel good and introducing them to one another. Icebreakers are all about accelerating to the productive part of your meeting. The faster you can help participants reach their productive stage, the better your output will be.
  3. Have a Parking Lot: Capture those ideas that come up in your meeting that are important, yet not necessarily on topic for the agenda in a parking lot, but don’t forget the next step.
  4. Keep track of follow up items: Assigning items to a parking lot because they are important is incredibly demotivating for your meeting participants if they don’t get re-addressed. Parking lot items and any other follow up for your meetings must be captured, tracked, followed up on. Accountability for actions and timing is paramount. Remember…“The fortune is in the follow up.”
  5. Separate the meeting roles of facilitator, scribe, and time keeper: Your meeting facilitator has a lot on his or her plate—focus on engaging the group, ensuring the meeting objectives are being met, and enabling a robust discussion. Assigning the roles of scribe and timekeeper allows for all roles to be purposely executed.
  6. Get feedback (plus / delta): Collecting some post-meeting feedback from your participants allows meetings to constantly stay productive and useful. Indicate that feedback is necessary for you to ensure the meetings are the best use of everyone’s time, and that the feedback will be considered for the next time your group meets. Create an environment that welcomes the feedback, and collect it anonymously before attendees leave the room. Alternatively, an anonymous survey (Two questions: What went well?  What would make it even better next time?) works well for virtual sessions.
  7. Wait 7 seconds: Give attendees a chance to feel open to participating by asking encouraging, open-ended questions and waiting 7 seconds to allow them to digest your question and formulate a response. This technique needs to be used intentionally and in moderation… as doing this repeatedly has the potential to make discussions feel a little heavy.

For more ideas like this, and how you can make your meetings run more smoothly, while engaging in a rich productive discussion, you can look to these GE proprietary change leadership programs: Change Acceleration Process ("CAP") and Workout.