Too often, managers run meetings that leave attendees bored, unsure of what’s expected of them, and confused about why they were even invited. You’ve probably found yourself stuck in many meetings like this yourself. I sure have.
The following quiz will give you insights into how to create the right meeting culture and make your meetings the productive, team-building – and even inspirational – gatherings they should be.
Review the question, choose from one of the two or three possible answers directly below, and then scroll down a few lines (no peeking) to find out which response is correct.
I’ve also included with this article a very short PDF – How to Run Meetings They Won’t Run From – which offers a dozen suggestions for running more effective meetings. I hope you find it helpful.
Question 1 of 5
You’re leading a meeting to discuss preparations for a tradeshow where your agency will be an exhibitor. After briefly discussing two possible vendors to build your agency’s booth, you suggest Vendor #1. Several attendees nod in agreement or acceptance. One person says, “Sounds fine.” You don’t see, hear or sense any dissent in the room. Is this the end of the discussion?
A. Yes, you should select Vendor #1.
B. Not necessarily; you need more discussion.
If you chose A (Yes, you should select Vendor #1)
Actually, you probably need more discussion. If you discussed both companies only briefly, and your vote for Vendor #1 received the lackluster response described above, you might need to explore the issue more fully. Would the group have also nodded yes if you suggested Vendor #2?
In such a scenario, you might need to play devil’s advocate – make the group articulate and defend its reasons for a given choice. You’ll often find they haven’t thought it through.
If you chose B (Not necessarily; you need more discussion)
Exactly. The low-enthusiasm response here suggests your team might not be thinking the issue through, might not care, or might just be tired or burned out.
When everyone in the room agrees without much discussion or debate, you risk that you’re all wrong or all missing something. So you might need to play devil’s advocate – make the group articulate and defend its choice.
Question 2 of 5
You want to gather your seven-employee staff together for a 1-hour meeting to discuss a new project. But your staff is busy working together on another project. So you’ll need to determine whether your proposed meeting is worth how much of your team’s time?
A. 1 hour
B. More than 5 hours
If you chose A (1 hour)
Your “1-hour” meeting will actually consume 8½ or 9 hours of staff productivity. That’s because it will take an hour from each of your seven employees… plus an hour of your time in the meeting… plus another ½ hour to an hour of your time, before and after the meeting, to prepare an agenda and send a recap email.
When you think of a staff meeting this way, you realize how much productivity it can consume – and you have better appreciation for the need to make the meeting productive and efficient.
If you chose B (More than 5 hours)
You’re right. Your “1-hour” meeting will actually consume closer to 9 hours of staff productivity. That’s because it will take an hour from each of your seven employees… plus an hour of your time in the meeting… plus another ½ hour to an hour of your time for meeting prep and recap.
Question 3 of 5
During a meeting you are leading, you ask an attendee for the status of a proposal she is working on. She says, “I’m finalizing the proposal right now.” Should you be satisfied with her response?
If you chose A (Yes)
Actually, your attendee has not given you a precise answer. Does “finalizing” mean she’s 90% complete? Does she just need a cover page, and then she’ll send it today? Or will it be ready in a week?
One of the main purposes of a staff meeting is to exchange useful information among your team. So demand precise language. Instead of “any day now,” “finalizing,” or “soon,” tell your attendees you expect to hear “Tuesday,” “in 48 hours,” or “by close of business Friday.”
If you chose B (No)
Exactly. Your attendee hasn’t truly given you a status update. “Finalize” could mean anything – ready tomorrow, ready in two weeks – and so it is not an answer you should accept in a meeting.
Demand precise language – a specific day or timeframe – even if it’s just an estimate.
Question 4 of 5
You want to arrange a meeting of your staff, to get progress updates on your employees’ respective projects. But you don’t have time to create and send out a detailed meeting agenda beforehand. What should you do?
A. Hold the meeting with no agenda, and go around the room for updates.
B. Don’t hold the meeting.
If you chose A (Hold the meeting with no agenda, and go around the room for updates)
This is a common management mistake in running meetings. Remember, your “1-hour” staff meeting actually consumes not 1 hour but an hour for every attendee… plus a couple of hours of your time. If you don’t have a clear agenda – with discussion topics and specific objectives – you might be better off not having the meeting at all.
Also, if you are looking for updates from each member of your staff, it might be more productive for everyone involved to request those updates via email or phone call. Otherwise, each attendee will likely be wasting most of their time in the meeting – because the details of all other attendees’ projects are unlikely to affect them.
If you chose B (Don’t hold the meeting)
You’re right! A meeting to “go around the room for status updates” is often largely a waste of time and energy. It’s unlikely that every attendee needs to know the details of all other attendees’ projects.
Question 5 of 5
You are leading a meeting with employees from several departments, coordinating a large agency project. An attendee walks in about 10 minutes late. What should you do?
A. Do nothing. Proceed and let the late attendee get caught up himself.
B. Scold the attendee.
C. Stop for just a moment to give the late attendee a brief recap.
If you chose A (Do nothing)
Yes, this is the most sensible strategy. Everyone in the room will note this attendee was late, so you don’t need to embarrass him further.
Also, by not pausing the meeting to acknowledge the attendee and catch him up on what’s happened so far, you send the message that it’s up to each attendee to arrive on time. Stopping everything to give a recap would show you value the late attendee’s time more than the time of all the other attendees who showed up promptly.
This is how you build a strong meeting culture.
If you chose B (Scold the attendee)
You don’t actually accomplish anything of value when you publicly embarrass an employee. In fact, you send the message to everyone in the room that you are to be feared – and that does not inspire your team to do their best work.
If someone arrives late for your meeting, just keep right on going with your meeting. The other attendees will all note that this person came late – that should be enough embarrassment that it won’t happen again.
If you chose C (Stop and give the late attendee a brief recap)
This is actually the worst strategy here. If someone shows up late to your meeting, you do not want to reward their behavior by wasting the time of everyone else in the room – all of whom showed up on time – to recap the meeting highlights so far.
Instead, just proceed with your meeting – don’t even acknowledge the late arrival. Let that person quietly settle into the meeting and get caught up on his own.