Group Meetings: More Gain, Less Pain

by drjim on August 14, 2008

Four more suggestions on how to make technical team meetings more effective

Four more suggestions on how to make technical team meetings more effective

We’ve talked about the fact that group meetings, especially for technical teams, can be a large expense and a big waste of time if not set up and run correctly. These are great opportunities to communicate with the entire team and you really don’t want to blow it. If you get picked to set one of these meetings up, I’ve got just a few more suggestions on how to make the meeting memorable not a memorial.

  1. Bridge Virtual and Real Worlds: all adults learn differently and they don’t stop doing this just because there’s a large group meeting going on. Blogs, podcasts, wikis all play a role in day-to-day life and have become the way that some team members prefer to learn. Don’t fight this, instead embrace it. If you don’t have time for everyone associated with a project to present their part of it, why not record a podcast and make it available to attendees to download. This way you can reduce the amount of time spent on that topic and yet still provide complete coverage. Use the tools to enhance the meeting experience.
  2. So What Did You Think About That? Providing the audience with an opportunity to comment on speakers and sessions is the key to completing the circle. Especially with Gen-X & Gen-Y’ers there is a need to be able to provide feedback in order to feel as though their participation really counted for something. This also helps shape the next meeting by telling the organizer what worked and what just flat out bombed.
  3. Context Gives Meaning To Content: Identify what you want the attendees to get out of attending the meeting. Why are they coming and what do you want them to be able to do when they leave? With this knowledge you can plan the day’s events to start everyone out in the same place and then gradually lead them to where you want to get them too. This sure beats just throwing together a bunch of speakers to fill a day.
  4. Is This Going To Be Graded? How the meeting is viewed after it is all over will be the summation of how each individual speaker was viewed. You really want to get the audience’s opinion of each speaker; however, having one of those one-size-fits-all speaker evaluation forms never really seems to provide any useful feedback. Instead, create a set of different evaluation forms based on the presenter’s content – technical, motivational, strategic, etc. This way you can truly learn who made a difference with your audience.

There you have it – everything that I currently know about putting on a good team meeting. I’m sure that there is more to it than I have been able to share here, so let me know what I missed. Have you ever had to run or help out running one of these big team meetings? How did it go – can you remember anything that was discussed and, perhaps more importantly, did the meeting cause any positive changes? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

 

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