Own Your Own Meeting Experience - Four Ways To Do

Own Your Own Meeting Experience - Four Ways To Do

in Blog, Business Collaboration, Effective Meetings
Own Your Own Meeting Experience - Four Ways To Do

By Danuta Charwat-McCall
Meetings, Collaboration

We own our experiences. It has to do with creating authentic interaction by taking responsibility for your own feelings and not blaming others. And making goals that represent your values. And being good stewards of your time.

I hold on to bits that resonate with me. One was from an article in the NY Times by Reid Hastie, a professor at U of Chicago, and it has to do with owning your experience. He wrote:

“Once meetings are over, we don’t effectively assign responsibility for a bad meeting or take personal responsibility as we should. Sure, someone called the meeting, but we all leave it unhappy and blaming everyone, including ourselves. Psychologists call this “diffusion of responsibility” and one consequence is that no one thinks it’s his or her job to fix it the next time.

I USED to be the disengaged participant — one who had good ideas about how to solve a problem or conduct a meeting, but didn’t contribute. I now take a more active role, aiming to make meetings more effective.”

In other words, we own our experience in meetings and we play a role in making them either a waste or a good use of our time. That leads me to think about four things that we should own to improve our own meeting experience.

Whether or not to attend the meeting, and how long.

In some cases, meeting attendance is mandatory, no questions asked. But in other cases, it is fair to ask why you need to attend this meeting. Is it just to keep you “in the loop”? If so, you can listen to a recording at your convenience, read the meeting notes or schedule a 10 minute debrief with a colleague. Are you expected to “provide input”, but not evaluate options or make a decision? Meeting software like ours or online team spaces give you a way to provide that input ahead of time.

People often look at meeting attendance in black and white terms – either I go or I don’t go. How about attending only that portion of the meeting during which you add value? For example, participate in a brainstorm activity to provide your feedback on a recent announcement, then take your leave if you are not directly involved in the next steps.

Whether or not to be prepared for the meeting.

A good meeting leader will let invitees know what is going to be discussed (and in what format) and what the desired outcomes are. When this doesn’t happen, in the spirit of training your meeting leader, contact him/her and ask “Could we see the agenda a few days before the meeting, so we can start thinking about the topics under discussion? Is there anything we can read and reflect on ahead of time? Is there some data you’d like us to provide beforehand?”

Whether to multi-task or be engaged.

This can be tricky – especially if the meeting is virtual (so tempting to catch up on email) or designed in a sequential way (eg: presentation followed by comments or going round the table). Start by taking responsibility for your own participation. For example, contribute to creating a more interactive meeting by noting who is asking interesting questions and responding directly to them rather than to the front of the room.

Whether to provide feedback.

Communicate high expectations. Do a mental evaluation at the end of the meeting. Send off a quick email to the facilitator – thank him/her for what worked well; make constructive requests for future events as needed.

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FacilitatePro is a pleasure to work with. I have another event tomorrow. Being able to work up ideas in parallel is going to shorten the event by 2 or 3 hours. Also, virtually everyone in the event is a strong introvert. Letting them write anonymously in their own little world should be a great help. And, being able to make real-time changes in a conference as the session evolves helps keep the team on track
-Charles V. Dunton, Senior Facilitator, NASA Lean Six Sigma Black Belt
NASA Langley Research Center