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Mediocre Meeting Mutiny: Why It's Time To Stop Settling for Tolerable 

How to transform your meetings from middling to magnetic.

New Zealand All Blacks pre-game Haka

Read Time: 4 minutes.

Our standards have dropped so low that our favorite meetings are the ones that get canceled. And if you missed Part 1 last week, I gave you some practical ideas for accelerating that process. 

By giving yourself more space by pruning the useless meetings, you can double your impact on those that remain. 

And those that remain likely come in 3 distinct flavors: 

  • One-on-one meetings with your team

  • Small group problem-solving or decision-making sessions

  • Large group all-hands or town hall meetings

I've already detailed my approach for inverting your one-on-ones, so we don't need to revisit those here. And while I believe you need to make your all-hands great, they're relatively low frequency and highly tied to your culture. 

I want to drill into those core meetings that make your business go. Amazon most accurately describes them as the two pizza meetings (attendance can't be more people than two pizzas can feed).

These 3-7 key participants solving problems or making decisions make or break your team's success.

Why? 

  • They reveal the diversity in their collective ideas.

  • They show how comfortable people are actively debating.

  • They underscore how effectively they realign and fiercely commit.

And you can see - and feel - how successful they are by how they end.

Does the team burst from these meetings collectively energized to win?

Or do the individuals trudge out of the room exhausted and defeated?

Here's how I'd rebuild these meetings to mid-90s Chicago Bulls’ intro energy.

101 - Efficient Execution

Knowing the basics and applying them are very different things. 

The key ingredient for getting the basics right: 

Respect.

Treating everyone's attention as a valuable resource is the best way to show them respect. 

Purpose - What is the singular reason we are meeting? Your test: This meeting is a win if we leave the room, and what is true? Hint: "A bunch of ideas" would not hit the mark. 

Roles - Why is each person in that meeting? Your test: Will the outcome be worse if this person doesn't attend? Hint: "To observe" can be done via recordings and transcripts.

Pre-reads - What shared context can be provided in advance so the time together starts at collaboration? Your test: Does everyone have the same inputs (context and data) that will let them apply logic to create the target output? Hint: "No advance materials" likely means you haven't visualized the meeting well. 

Facilitated - Meetings need deft leadership. When should tangents be explored versus redirected? Your test: Will this exploration change our objective or alter the outcome? Hint: Calibrate your "grip strength" based on a) the criticality of the decision and b) the maturity of the topic. 

Follow-ups - Who is going to do what by when? Your test: The meeting is not over if you can't answer that question. Hint: "If it's not written, it's not real." Send it to confirm, or it never happened. 

Nothing above is ground-breaking. But look back on your meetings the last few weeks and ask yourself how often you went five for five. 

So I'll repeat it: 

Knowing the basics and applying them are very different things. 

Once you're consistently nailing the basics, it's time to shoot higher. 

You Control The Inputs, Not The Output

Next year is not going to get easier. Everything’s accelerating. You won’t magically have more time. Your days won’t suddenly become predictable.

You can’t control the outcomes. What you can control is how you approach leading. Does every interaction, every meeting, and every decision give you and your team the best chance to win?

We built the MGMT Accelerator to optimize your approach. That’s why the 750+ leaders who’ve taken it said it was worth 24x what they paid.

Commit to making the rest of 2024 your most impactful year yet.

201 - Engaging Enlightenment

In case no one told you, we're all in the business of "edutainment" (equal parts education and entertainment). 

So when I suggest to executives that they're mailing in their "performance" in meetings, the common pushback I get is: 

"I'm a leader, not an entertainer."

But we don't want to make decisions. We want to make great decisions. We don't want to solve problems. We want to ignite change

And our odds are highest when we do this from a "peak state."

To get ourselves into this state, we need to trigger three things: 

  1. Physiology - move, raise the energy, breathe.

  2. Priority - what's required to be 100% present?

  3. Positivity - prime with gratitude, celebrate wins.

So, if you want your team to engage from their peak state, you must hit both the mind and soul. The head and the heart. 

As Seth Godin points out in his Really Bad Powerpoint post, "You can wreck a communication process with lousy logic or unsupported facts, but you can't complete it without emotion. Logic is not enough."

Here are 3 ways to get you started:

Hype Songs - We start every MGMT Accelerator with a hype song. Why? 

  • It breaks their work pattern. 

  • It signals this moment as different. 

  • It visibly raises everyone's energy.

I always had the instinct to start meetings this way but never the courage. Don't be me.

State Changes - Big rooms are hard to keep focused and rarely get much done. 

  • Open up the chat. 

  • Split off into groups. 

  • Use props and post-its.

With attention spans shorter than ever, keep them moving. You fail if it's a "one chair, one zoom" box meeting. 

Respected Rituals - Before every game, the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team performs a Haka chant that’s equal parts inspiring and intimidating. Not only does it raise their energy, but it connects them to a larger tradition. They don’t just play the game. They build a legacy.

What tradition, ritual, or superstition can be harnessed to connect today’s meeting to something greater?

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Thank you for reading. Appreciate you!

Dave

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