I was listening to a podcast by Patrick Lencioni the other day, and the topic was how to run your meetings like a movie. It was an interesting title, but I was skeptical. I think there was a part of me that was resigned to the idea that meetings were always going to be awful. My solution has been to avoid meetings, or, if I can’t do that, limit meetings to the bare minimum.
But they made some interesting points. They asked why meetings needed to be so bad. After all, you’re engaging with other people, and making real decisions about the future of your organization. The stakes should be high. In a perfect world, meetings would at least be energizing and engaging. But so many of us don’t feel that way.
There were two key points for how to run your meeting like a movie:
Don’t Shy Away from Conflict
The key to any movie is conflict. If there’s not any conflict, there’s no reason to watch a movie. We want to see how the conflict is resolved. That’s what engages us in the movie. In meetings, however, so many people are conflict-averse. Conflict makes us uncomfortable, so we avoid it like the plague. The result of this conflict avoidance is a boring meeting.
It’s important to note that not all conflict is constructive. Good conflict is focused on disagreement about ideas or strategies. In a trusting relationship, conflict is nothing more than working together to try to find the best possible solution. When conflict devolves into personal attacks, politics, or name-calling, it can be destructive.
Begin Your Meeting with a “Hook”
The most important part of a movie is the first ten minutes. If you don’t hook the movie-goer with a good start, you will likely lose them for the rest of the movie. In a similar vein, it’s important to start your meeting off with something exciting. Most people start their meeting by reviewing the minutes from the previous meeting. This is a boring way to start a meeting! Instead, begin with something more energizing. For example, discuss your core purpose as an organization (i.e., Why do we exist?) or your most pressing problem right now.
How are your meetings going? Do you dread them, or are they like going to the movies? What is one thing you could do to improve the quality of your meetings?