When did you last leave a meeting feeling energised?
Imagine … you walk into a meeting excited about the contribution you can make and leave buzzing and feeling valued. That’s what we all want – hey?
Sadly, we often sit in meetings wondering why we are there or unable to share our thoughts either for fear of saying the wrong thing or not being given an opportunity to talk. They can be a drain on valuable school team time and, worse, demotivating.
So where does it go wrong and what can we do about it? Here are some simple steps you can take as a school team to ensure your meetings deliver the results you need, and quickly.
1. Save people’s time by being clear on who needs to attend
We often have regular meetings with a core group of people and it becomes a habit to invite them all. Does everyone need to be there for the entire meeting? Could ‘all team’ items be at the start of the meeting and then could some people, who don’t need to be there for certain agenda items, leave early.
2. Increase participation through good preparation
Send a clear meeting invite and book a room where you can thrive as a team. Have an outcome, agenda, pre reading and any items for pre-thinking that are issued in an agreed time before the meeting. Those people who like to reflect before sharing a response will thank you and you’ll have more contribution during the meeting. You’ll spend less time simply information sharing and can focus on discussion, which is the value of face-to-face or virtual meetings.
3. Get the most from virtual meetings
Consider who needs to join virtually and ensure they have the relevant details so they can be an active participant. Make sure the meeting chair regularly brings them in by asking their views. Remember they won’t be as aware, as those in the room, when there are pauses in conversation or when is an appropriate time for them to speak.
4. Engage people so they are ‘present’
Prepare to vary who speaks and try to include more fun activities to engage those who like more active communication. You’ll also hold everyone’s attention better with less drifting off and presenteeism.
5. Create a pact for meetings
Develop meeting guidelines that focus on creating a respectful and engaging experience in meetings. For example: We don’t speak over one another; We listen with an open mind; We give others space to speak; and w create a safe place to share our views openly and respectfully. Have these as a visible reminder in all meeting rooms. You can even have ‘fun’ consequences for breaking the pact, such as giving money to charity or a points system recognising great meeting behaviours.
6. Engage the brain power in the room
We use something called DISC to help understand the four different behavioural types that each of us falls into. Each type differs in the way in which they see the world, how they listen and how they can be influenced. In each school meeting, you’ll have a combination of these four types. If we start to understand others’ DISC profiles, we can increase the impact we have on those around us and engage the full brain power of everyone in the room. The four DISC types are:
- The Dominant characters – want less detail and will want to know the outcome and to push through the agenda more quickly. They may be on the impatient side and will definitely let you know their views, sometimes directly.
- The Influencers – will want to talk, sometimes at length, and will enjoy the highly sociable aspects of the meeting. Everyone’s view is important, but they may need managing, so you stay on time.
- The Supporters – will focus on the people aspects and will want to know how these are being considered. They will want to know things are fair and will avoid confrontation so keep things ‘safe’ for them if you want them to share openly.
- The Conscientious ones – are more analytical, introverted and fact based. They will prefer information (and some detail) before the meeting so they can read and digest it fully before coming to an opinion or response. They will also appreciate the time and space to talk amongst the more outgoing colleagues so ensure everyone has air time.
We have experienced amazing ‘penny drop’ moments where school leadership teams have started to understand these communication type dynamics. They have made small changes to how they run meetings with big results, including everyone feeling heard and more valued.
7. Keep the momentum going
Record actions in the meeting. Assign an owner and deadline and share actions as soon as possible after the meeting. Ask people to update them directly on a shared drive so they take ownership rather than having to be chased.
Follow up actions at the next meeting or within given deadlines. Adjust actions where they could not be completed. Be clear that when someone commits to an action and a deadline that they do need to make it happen. Importantly, celebrate and recognise progress.
Ask people what worked and didn’t in the meetings they attend so you can continuously learn and improve.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone on 07920 752192 or 07920 772642 if you have specific meeting problems on which you would like advice.
And click here for a PDF version of the below one page reminder that you can print out and stick on your wall.