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.
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.