It’s Your Meeting….Take Control of It!

In my last post, I listed six things to stop discussing with your clients. Did you do it? How did it go?

The reason those things are important to eliminate is that when a meeting diverts into those areas, you’ve lost control and it will be hard to get it back.

So this week, let’s look at my key steps to controlling a meeting, even before it begins!

Send out an agenda

So often, this is overlooked. I cannot stress enough the importance of a setting an agenda prior to a meeting or call. If you just said, “Yes, Steve. Everyone knows that” then I’d ask you to recall the last 5-10 meeting you or someone else hosted. Did they all have an agenda, in advance?  Probably not. You must set the agenda because it creates AGREEMENT on what will be discussed and decisions that need to be made. Just as importantly, it puts you in control of the meeting right from the start. Send it out at least 24-hours in advance to give people the chance to review it and comment.

Start with agenda

As last week’s post directed, don’t start the call with the weather, a joke or a story about your weekend. Jump right in and state, “Everyone has had the agenda since yesterday at 1pm. I’ll quickly go over it and then we can begin.”

It’s important that your agenda have a timeline. Make sure people know how much time will be spent on each issue. I suggest using exact times, like this:

1:00 pm Review agenda

1:05 pm Past business

1:15 pm New business

This way, both you and the attendees can tell whether the meeting is on track or running ahead of or behind schedule. Try it and see how much more in control you’ll be when you know exactly where the meeting is vs. the agenda.

Review and Plan

At the conclusion of each agenda item, review what was discussed. Then, determine the next steps and who will own them. Ever been to a meeting where a lot was discussed yet nothing got done as a result? Bypassing this step is why. Don’t do it!

Send a Timely Recap

After the call or meeting, people will jump back into whatever they were doing prior to it or had planned to do after it. You might, too! It is critical that you create time (put it on your calendar) to create the recap notes and send it out to participants. You want them to have a bulleted list that recaps the following:

  • Challenges Discussed
  • Resolutions
  • Next Steps
  • Owners
  • Deadlines

You should close the email with something like: “If I you don’t send back comments or questions, I will assume that you agree with this recap and your assigned tasks/deadlines.” Talk about taking control!

Privately Talk with the Meeting Hijacker

Even if you’ve done all the steps above, your meeting can get hijacked by someone who will manipulate the meeting, sending it down the rabbit hole and into long discussions that ignore your agenda. After the meeting, call that person and discuss what happened. Relationally call them out by asking something akin to: “It might be me, but it seemed that you were upset or frustrated when we were talking about X. Maybe I missed something so, can you let me know what’s on your mind?”

You need him or her to get past whatever it is so that things can move forward. Your goal is to neutralize them for the next call. “I understand. In the 20 minutes we have…let’s find out the real issue here because we all have to move forward on this….we need everyone on board.” I bet they will think twice about hijacking a meeting of yours again!

Try these tactics for your next call or meeting. Don’t skip any! Let me know if you see a change in how the meeting goes and the control you have over it.