Four Steps to Making Meetings Productive
Let's face it - people hate meetings, and for good reason. They take up time that could be better spent on producing actual outcomes.
Coming from the corporate world I have had my share of meetings - many of which left me frustrated and behind schedule. In fact, it is probably safe to say we have all sat in a meetings where we attempted to hide our eye rolls, as we looked away from the facilitator and glanced at our watch anxious to get back to the deadlines that waited for us.
But meetings don’t have to be that way.
Before scheduling a meeting consider the following:
- Is a group meeting really necessary? If so, who and why do they need to be there? Keep in mind, pulling people from their daily responsibilities is costly, so make certain your meeting is result driven.
- What do you want to accomplish? Have clear goals and objectives.
- Be prepared. Productive meetings MUST have purpose, structure, and timeline flow.
- Follow -Up. Nothing is worse than spending an hour out of an already busy day and not seeing the results from the effort.
When meetings are necessary and the right stakeholders are in attendance you should use the ORID framework to focus the conversation. Questions are powerful tools for gathering information, sparking introspection, and arriving at decisions.
Setting the Framework Utilizing the ORID Questioning Method
Among the many benefits of the ORID framework is that it provides you with a “checklist” to guide the discussion while addressing all of the different learning preferences of the participants. It is these four stages of questioning that give us the four types of questions you need to use to move meetings forward and achieve the desired results.
Your goal is to guide the group through the entire process without solely focusing on one and jumping to conclusions without a full perspective.
O - Objective
Reveal Facts and Reality
Objective questions are used to draw out facts, data, and observable reality. The purpose of objective questioning is to ground the participants which helps to later recognize that there may be different assumptions, interpretations, and perspectives involved shaping reality.
Some Objective Questions you can use to set the context:
- What is the history of the situation?
- What facts do we know about the situation?
- What words, phrases, or pieces of data stand out? (When reviewing data in a presentation)
- What are the deliverables or what are we trying to achieve?
- What resources do we have?
Reflective questions elicit our relationship to data. They allow participants to explore feelings, emotions, and personal connections to a given situation. They also tend to surface our immediate response. Emotional data is often not acknowledged in the business setting; however, emotions are important data and should be taken into consideration when making a decision; they strengthen and support the decision. Ignoring reflective responses will jeopardize the decision.
Some Reflective Questions you can ask after the objective data has been explored:
- What does this remind you of?
- How does this make you feel?
- What did you find new or refreshing?
- What surprised or delighted you?
- What feels most challenging or worries you?
Uncover Deeper Meanings
The “So what?” interpretive questions help participants make sense of the situation by examining values, assumptions, significance, and implications. These questions prompt critical thinking and analysis.
Some Interpretive Questions you can pose to the team for reflection:
- What have we learned so far?
- What does this mean for us?
- How might this affect our work?
- What more do we need to know or further explore?
- What insights have we unearthed?
- If we got a chance to do it again, what would we do differently?
- What are some of our strengths and weaknesses – how do they help or hinder us with this situation?
- What are the issues underlying the current challenge?
- What patterns did you see among similar events?
D — Decisional
Based on information coming from the three previous stages of questioning, this is the stage at which a decision is produced. The key question at the decisional stage is: What are we going to do? You might set the scene for this critical question by recapping the findings of the previous three stages. The focus of discussion in the decisional stage focuses on the future.
- What would be the best course of action?
- What would be achievable, positive outcomes?
- What is realistic given the limitation of our resources?
Whew - you made it through a well-structured meeting. Now what? Just as every meeting must start with clear objectives they must end with clear deliverables. Your team has spent the last hour coming up with solutions to drive the business forward so make certain they see the results of their efforts.
- Create a follow up email outlining the key objective of the meeting
- Include a list of action items needed to accomplish the solution
- Assign individuals who will be responsible for each action item
- Set due dates and hold each person accountable for delivering the results.
When your team realizes each meeting has purpose and results in a productive outcome and will help them accomplish their job more effectively they will come to the meeting eager to participate.