How Not to Bore People to Death with a Meeting

We’ve all been to meetings in which we were bored to death. Meetings can also be frustrating and seem like a total waste of time.

At my church, I have a friend named Art Stump. He is on our Church Admin team, plays keyboard in our band, and is a regional manager for Kitchen Collection.

He has a knack for making meetings interesting, profitable, and fun. So, I asked him, what are the most important things you’ve learned about leading a meeting?

He answered by giving 5 suggestions. They are worth thinking about and implementing.

Here’s what he wrote.

Art Stump: In thinking about leading meetings I tried not to necessarily consider “textbook” types of things. Instead I wanted to focus on things I believe I learned through the process of both leading meetings and, probably more so, sitting through meetings. I’m not saying I discovered any of this on my own, nor that I haven’t read and studied meetings, just that I thought mostly about what I’ve experienced myself.

So, here’s my list of 5 things I’ve learned about leading meetings. (This isn’t a Top 5 so there’s not a particular order to them):

  1. Attitude. Agenda. Action. I lumped these all together. The leader has to be positive, enthusiastic, and upbeat about the meeting. A well-planned meeting will always be more successful. Follow up is important to demonstrate to the participants that their time is important, productive, and meaningful.
  2. Don’t confuse straying with spontaneity. You want to allow space for discussion, letting the meeting progress, but you also need to stay on course. An issue or topic might be extremely important but that doesn’t mean it should be a part of that particular meeting.
  3. Make sure everyone participates. That means encouraging the more quiet folks to speak up. It also means sometimes having to cut off the talkative ones. There are people who try to dominate every question and every moment. The leader has to keep those personalities in check. Also, the leader can promote participation by not always being the one who gives the “correct” or “best” answer.
  4. Create conflict. Bring up the opposite point of view as if it’s your own. Sometimes that means taking the heat of the group. But the only way to get everyone’s true thoughts and opinions is to ignite true conflict–or at least conflict that is perceived to be true. Plus it can make a difference later on if all sides of an issue have already been addressed.
  5. During creative, brainstorming processes never let the flow of ideas come to a dead end. Always stop the discussion by refocusing the energy onto the next topic. Or, springboard the energy toward the next meeting if there’s nothing left on the agenda. There’s an art to this one because you don’t want to stall momentum. But when any flow of ideas is allowed to continue until it’s depleted, everyone will become exhausted and the creative energy will be lost. And I’ve found that the fatigue will carry over until the next meeting even if it’s a week later.

Those are my thoughts, but I think there’s a heart to the matter. And I mean that as a pun. It comes down to heart. You have to want to do it. You have to like guiding and directing the team toward an objective. You have to delight in the process. Meetings can be tedious and boring and lifeless. The best leader wants to be the catalyst that creates the spirit and spark giving vibrancy and vigor to the meeting. You have to enjoy leading meetings.

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