“That was an awful meeting. What a waste of my time!”

How often have you had this same thought? Why do we tolerate such bad meetings? Consider the last meeting you attended. How many of these pitfalls were evident?

  • Didn’t start on time.
  • Missing key people.
  • Lacked a clear purpose.
  • No agenda.
  • Few people engaged.
  • Discussion wandered, repeatedly.
  • Key issues not addressed.
  • No decisions made.
  • No follow-up actions.
  • The meeting wasn’t worth the time.

So, are most of the meetings inside of your organization productive? Do most of them achieve their desired end? Are most of them masterful?

What is a Masterful Meeting?

A masterful meeting is a well-prepared, skillfully-executed, results-oriented meeting with a timely start, a decisive close, and a clear follow-up plan.

We all know when we have attended a masterful meeting: the purpose is clear, the right people are present, all the information needed is available, the agenda is carefully planned and executed, the discussion is passionate, people are engaged, decisions are made, and the meeting ends with a clear understanding of what was done and will be done next.

Unfortunately, most meetings aren’t masterful. Ask your people about the meetings they attend. You will likely find that many of them spend half or more of their time in unproductive, ineffective, dispiriting, and unnecessary meetings.

Bad meetings waste time, consume resources, and wear down people’s energy and passion. Still worse, bad meetings often result in bad decisions: decisions that are poorly thought through, void of innovation, and missing the necessary buy-in for success.

Unfortunately, we have lowered the bar so far that bad meetings have become the norm! We have accepted them as a necessary evil and, therefore, so have our people. The result is an organizational culture that makes it acceptable to waste valuable time and resources in poorly prepared and poorly executed meetings.

Establishing Meeting Rights

A fundamental vehicle for transforming meetings is establishing and granting to every employee a set of meeting rights. The goal of the meeting rights is to empower everyone in the organization to be a catalyst for raising the bar on meetings and for making bad meetings unacceptable.

The Secrets to Masterful Meetings details 10 meeting rights and recommends that organizations modify the rights to fit their desired culture. What follows is an abbreviated version of the ten rights.

Your Meeting Rights (abbreviated version)

I. Meeting Notice.
You have the right to be informed about the purpose, expected products, and proposed agenda for a meeting, verbally or in writing, at least twenty-four hours in advance of the meeting.

II. Timely Start.
You have the right to attend meetings that start on time.

III. Right People.
You have the right to have all major viewpoints critical to decision-making represented at the meeting.

IV. Right Information.
You have the right to have the information necessary to facilitate decision-making available at the meeting.

V. Ground Rules.
You have the right to have agreed upon ground rules respected in the meeting.

VI. Focused Discussion.
You have the right for meetings to stay focused on the topic of the meeting.

VII. Input Opportunity.
You have the right to have the opportunity to provide input and alternative views before decision-making occurs in the meeting.

VIII. Meeting Recap.
You have the right to hear a recap of (a) decisions made during the meeting, (b) actions to be taken, when and by whom, following the meeting, and (c) any outstanding issues to be discussed at a future meeting.

IX. Timely Completion.
You have the right to have your time respected by having meetings finish at or before the scheduled end time.

X. No Retribution.
You have the right to exercise Your Meeting Rights without fear of retribution or other consequences.

Begin raising the bar in the way you collaborate and meet with your team and clients. Get trained in fundamental meeting facilitation skills from Facilitating Masterful Meetings, the two-day course that will help you amplify the way your group meets to achieve better results.