Is your meeting communication mysterious? We spend a lot of our time in meetings; so much so that in companies a common complaint is there isn’t enough time to move our projects ahead during the work day. We compensate by working longer days, often bringing home work in the evening or on the weekends. Is this an effective response? Is it even sustainable?

Because we spend so much time in meetings, (many of which are dreaded), it would seem that we would have the hang of how to get a lot done in less time. Alas, that’s not always the case.

A recent client conversation illustrated this point. He was conducting a meeting with his team; he had an objective; called the meeting, the participants showed up, and then things got a bit “off-track.” Although he was positive initially, when participants began introducing complaints or negative stories related to the problem, he found it hard to get back on track. So “what went wrong?” Things started off well, and then deteriorated rapidly. If this has ever happened to you or a team you belong to, it can be frustrating.
Just a few short minutes of mental preparation can make your meetings much more effective and engaging.

It may seem obvious, and still bears repeating. Begin and end on time. Plan out how much time you need for input, creative problem solving, and action planning.
Here are my top 5 tips to de-mystifying effective meeting communication:

Leadership presence; they are taking their cues from you; when you are fully present, listening and accepting, you create the experience where others want to engage.
Clear intention; what do you intend to bring forth, discuss, or decide upon by the end? Keep this crystal clear by writing it down and referring to it as things get going.
Begin with what’s working; this creates positive emotions for participants and helps them relax and see that lots is going well already; it’s easier to work on problems in this mental and emotional state
Present the problem, have a specific time frame in which each participant is invited to share input on how they see it, how it impacts them, and what have they already tried
Reframe; invite each participant to consider other ways of observing the problem; ask questions to discover “what” and “how” instead of “why.”

By doing a brief bit of preparation, meetings have a strong focus, people are kept on track, and there is room for creativity and contribution.

May your meetings no longer be a mystery!

Author's Bio: 

Susan Freeman is an executive coach who is best known for her unique approach to leadership transformation–combining Western strategic discipline with Eastern integrative wisdom techniques. Her clients get to the root of what is holding them back, allowing access to their Natural Leader. They evolve their leadership in an integrated, balanced and sustainable way. When they do, they experience passion, clarity and exceptional results.

She is the author of, “Step Up Now: 21 Powerful Principles for People Who Influence Others,” as well as a public speaker on the inner dimensions of leadership. Her passion is working with motivated, high-achieving leaders and influencers.

Susan received her M.B.A. in Marketing from Columbia University and her B.A. in Psychology from Wellesley College. Susan is an accredited coach with the International Coach Federation, as well as with Newfield Network where she received her coaching training. She is also a certified business facilitator from the MSP Institute. Susan brings to her coaching more than 25 years of corporate, entrepreneurial and non-profit business management and leadership experience.

She volunteers to mentor young women leaders locally and globally. In Africa, she works closely with The Akilah Institute to help empower young women with the skills, knowledge and confidence to become leaders. Her book connects her to the school, where it is used in curriculum and where she donates all profits from its sales. In Tampa she has mentored young women through the Emerge Tampa program of the Greater Tampa Chamber and Frameworks Tampa Bay.

Susan is a native of Kansas City and resides in Tampa, FL. In Tampa she is an active member of The Athena Society and a Leadership Tampa Alumna. She has founded or served on several educational boards at the secondary and university levels.

Susan is happily married and has three grown sons. Her hobbies include ballroom dancing, travel and yoga. Rarely a day goes by when she doesn’t eat a piece of dark chocolate.