People want engagement and focus in their meetings

However, meetings are often frustrating. Most of the time, the same people who do all the talking. They often derail the meeting and make it take longer than planned.

Similarly, it's always the same people who are quiet, and there is a concern that the lack of engagement will affect good team commitments.

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  • C - Captain. Every ship (every meeting) needs a captain to get it safely to its destination at an appointed time.
  • O - Outcome. We need to know where we're going, so it's important to articulate the desired outcome of your meeting in the invitation.
  • P - Process. We need to know how we're going to get to the destination. This takes planning. If the outcome is a decision, we need to ask how to reach that decision, e.g. vote, consensus, etc.
  • E - Equity (an equal opportunity to speak).

Imagine you're in a meeting when some colleagues start having a side conversation that dominates the meeting.

  • First, listen. Wait for an opening.
  • Then step in and validate. Ask a question to break the momentum of their conversation. For example, "Can I ask you a question?" followed by "That all sounds very interesting."
  • Now redirect by asking, "Can you help me understand how what you're saying relates to the topic on our agenda?" This can help bring them back to the objective of the meeting.

We tolerate meetings that don't stay on track because we tell ourselves there is nothing we can do - that we can't interrupt because it would be rude. We also worry that we might be rejected, so we sit through long meetings.

Elon Musk once wrote an email to his staff saying that they should walk out of a meeting if it's evident that they aren't adding value. It's rude to make someone stay and waste time.

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