Top 10 Meeting Tips and Ideas for Army Leaders

As I said in another post, I hate meetings.  Maybe it’s just the nature of the beast, but most small unit leaders have a BUNCH of meetings to attend.  And in most cases, the meetings are a complete waste of time because they do not have a clear purpose and they are not ran smoothly.

I’m here to help you avoid that.  Today, I’d like to share some meeting ideas and meeting tips for Army leaders serving in the ARNG and USAR.  These are just some tips and secrets I’ve learned through the years that helped me have successful meetings.  They are listed in no particular order.

# 1 Never Have a Meeting Just to Have a Meeting

That’s right folks.  Never have a meeting just to have a meeting.  Just because your unit has been doing meetings a certain way, does mean you have to continue them.  Ask yourself “is a meeting really necessary?” before you ever schedule one.  In most cases, it’s not.

# 2 Never Have a Meeting That Lasts More Than 60 Minutes

Have you ever been to a marathon meeting?  I have.  My old battalion used to have training meetings that lasted four to six hours.  Can you believe that?  While the meetings started out good, they went on and on and on.  We tried to cover too much information and had too many people there.  While the meeting accomplished a few things, it really ended up wasting most people’s time.  You have to remember that most folks have short attention spans and cannot remain focused for hours on end.  I know I can’t.  Rather than have a marathon meeting, do a series of shorter meetings.

# 3 Evaluate Who REALLY Needs to Attend Before You Invite People

I’ve been to meetings where TWENTY people attended, but only three or four of them were actually needed.  If you are going to host a meeting take the time and ask yourself who REALLY needs to be there.  If the person isn’t going to participate in the conversation during the meeting, they probably don’t need to be there.  And remember, you can always publish meeting notes (and you should) and sent it to people to give them a heads up.

# 4 Do Meetings OUTSIDE of Drill Weekend

This is where a lot of ARNG and USAR leaders mess up.  They try and do all their meetings during drill weekend.  As a result, their subordinate leaders have to change their plans and can’t participate in the training they had scheduled with their subordinates.  Most “part-time” Army leaders have a lot to cram in during drill weekend, so please don’t waste their time.  Try and do most of your meetings BEFORE or AFTER drill weekend.

# 5 Leverage Technology Whenever You Can

We live in a technological age.  There are resources available such as online webinars and free conference calling technology that you can use.  Why make everyone drive to the armory when you can use these resources?  You have to remember that your key leaders have day jobs and families.  Your job is to make life SIMPLE for them, not make it complicated.  Let them do the meeting from the comfort of their own home.

# 6 Consider Using Alternatives Such as Email

This is a tip that few Army leaders consider.  Rather than having a meeting, why not just disseminate your information via email?  It won’t work in every case, but in most cases it’s a great alternative to having a meeting.  Just publish the information via email and answer people’s questions.

# 7 Always Have a Clear WRITTEN Agenda for Your Meeting

This sounds simple, but how many meetings have you been too where there was no agenda?  Probably a lot.  If you are responsible for the meeting, take the time and make an agenda.  During the meeting, USE THE AGENDA.  Give everyone a copy so they know the task and purpose and know what to expect in your meeting.

# 8 Use a Facilitator to Keep Your Meetings on Track

Someone in your meeting (probably you) needs to be the BAD GUY.  Someone needs to keep people on track and keep the TALKERS from monopolizing the meeting and making it much longer than it should be.  If possible, have your deputy do this.  Or, do it yourself.

# 9 Collect Cell Phones

If everyone is meeting face to face, collect everyone’s cell phone when they enter the room.  I’ve just been to too many meetings where people were distracted throughout the meeting (including the facilitator).  The last thing you want is people texting or checking their email during your meeting.

# 10 Make Everyone Stand Up

If your meetings are done face to face, make everyone stand up!  I know this sounds mean, but I can promise you one thing: your meetings will be much shorter.  When people have to stand up for a period of time, they are uncomfortable.  And when they are uncomfortable, they will get to the point much quicker!  This will shorten your meeting times by as much as 80 to 90 percent.

BONUS TIP: Always Publish Meeting Minutes

Always, and I mean always publish your meeting minutes.  Share what you talked about in the meetings, and make sure you identify who is responsible for what was addressed during the meeting (suspense’s).  Post the meeting minutes on the bulletin board and email everyone a copy.

Final Thoughts

I don’t expect you to agree with every meeting tip I mentioned above.  That’s fine.  Just pick the ideas that work for you and start implementing them in your own meetings.  You will see significant results.

What are your thoughts?  What are your best meeting tips and ideas for Army leaders?  Leave a comment below and let us know.

 

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10 thoughts on “Top 10 Meeting Tips and Ideas for Army Leaders”

  1. These are all great tips — for military personnel and civilians alike — for meetings called by you as a small unit leader in the ARNG or USAR. However, often you have to go to meetings called by others, and in those cases you don’t have control over many of these aspects of the meeting.

    I would like to recommend one tip for meetings that other unit leaders have called, and that’s to get a copy of the agenda and plan ahead to make at least one useful contribution to one of the topics addressed in the meeting.

    It’s a great way to get noticed and a great way to keep your attention on topic. If you have planned ahead of time where you can add value to a particular subject, your boss and your peers are going to start noticing that you have some pretty valuable ideas.

  2. Meetings are a drag but I think it’s important that all participants get a copy of the meeting agenda ahead of time. This gives everyone a chance to bring something to the table, everyone knows what to expect and it helps keep everyone on track. The use of a facilitator is great and highly recommended. That combined with an agenda will keep the meeting short and sweet…hopefully. With modern technology there isn’t any reason why you couldn’t Skype a meeting but I have to say I’ve been in on those types of meetings and too often people put the mute button on then hit the fridge.

  3. I read this post again and I really have to say that using a facilitator is also very wise. So many meetings go off on tangents. In many cases, one or two individuals are disruptive and will ask questions that get others off on something that really is not in direct reflection of that particular meeting. It could be that they are doing their jobs improperly and do not want the meeting to confront that. Either way, with someone managing the meeting, it will go exactly as the plan was.

    1. Someone definitely needs to be in charge, to keep things moving. This is essential to an efficient meeting. As long as the mediator doesn’t get involved with tangents or questions, it should work fine.

  4. Chuck, I just love all the tips you put here. #2 is dead on. Set an alarm and use in conjunction with #10 and people will not be upset with attending the meetings you call.

    I must also push #5. Technology has given programs such as Skype, and better yet for the application you speak of: Go To Meeting:
    This is so much easier to get every one on board and they can do the meetings from the comfort of their own home or office.

    Lastly, collecting cell phones is perfect. They can be a nuisance in meetings. A person can live without it for 60 minutes.

    Great post.

  5. Chuck, these are fantastic tips. I laughed when you said to stand up, but your reasoning is totally true. Nothing is worse than wasting time in an already packed weekend. I think this plan is great, and can get people out the door faster to continue doing their jobs.

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