Making Meetings Meaningful

No matter your role in this world it is likely you are attending some sort of meeting! Whether it is a meeting for your child, your work, your civic engagement or faith establishment, meetings are inevitable! Isn’t it the worst when you attend a meeting that is an utter waste of your time! There are countless reasons meetings can go sideways. I’ll have to admit, I have not only been a participant in those types of meetings, but I have led a few myself (apologies to my participants). What if we could flip the script on meetings? What if instead of pointless gatherings we could create meaningful connections and space for flourishing?

I appreciate the way Priya Parker, author of The Art of Gathering, conceptualizes meetings or as she calls them, gatherings. Parker’s very first point of order is to decide why you are really gathering. What is the purpose of your gathering/meeting? Your meeting should then flow from that purpose in everything you do next. Whether you are a participant in or leading the meeting, there are actions you can take to make meetings meaningful.


7 Tips for Making Meetings Meaningful

Agenda Setting– Leaders, send an agenda before the meeting in time for participants to contribute. Participants, take time to review the agenda items and contribute. This builds the mutual partnership that exists between stakeholders in a meeting. It also assists the leader and participant in preparing for the meeting.

Transition-Before you begin/enter a meeting, take at least one minute (or more) to clear your mind. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, pay attention to the sensations in your body. This assists all of us with transitioning. With the increase in virtual meetings, it can be tempting to not schedule in transitions time. For example, you can go from one meeting to the next without even getting up from your desk. Transition time is often organically built in when meetings are face to face. Make sure you build in time to transition. Taking care of the transition time takes care of meeting in a more purposeful manner.

Check In-Check your feelings before beginning. This can be difficult for many of us as we are not always the best at describing or knowing how we feel. If you struggle with naming your emotions, I recommend reading Permission to Feel by Marc Brackett or Atlas of the Heart by Brene´ Brown. Acknowledging how you are feeling by checking in with yourself can clue you into how you are showing up to the meeting. When possible, do a group check in for those who want to share. How are others feeling about the meeting? While this should not be forced this can build connection among those gathered.

Share purpose-As a leader be clear about the purpose of the meeting and what you hope to accomplish. As a participant consider your purpose in the meeting and seek clarity when purpose and topics don’t align.

Honor space and time-Mute devices (put away if possible). Show up 100% to the meeting. This is one of the most difficult meeting tips to follow. We are addicted to our devices, and they pull at our attention constantly. I have been a culprit of reading e-mails, answering texts and phone calls during meetings. Encourage the commitment of putting away devices and being fully present. Honor others time commitments by beginning and ending meetings on time. It may be that you must readjust time allotments for meetings depending on agenda. Understand that time is important to many folks, and they consider it sacred.

Celebrate-celebrate progress, achievements, and milestones both professional and personally (when appropriate). This brings life, laughter, and flourishing to the group.

Minutes-take meeting minutes including who is responsible for what until you meet again. Make sure all participants have access to the minutes for review. It is easy to forget what was decided without record.

These tips are not meant to be all inclusive, but they will absolutely get you on the right track for meaningful meetings! You are busy, they are busy and the last place most of us want to be is a useless meeting! Make your meetings meaningful with purpose! Happy Meeting Making!





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