2 Rules To Transform Your Meeting Results

We love to hate meetings. It’s justified every time we leave a meeting without any relevant results. I want to share 2 rules to transform your meeting results. These rules are easy to remember and will work in meetings of any size. 

First, let’s look at an example of a meeting. This is a discussion by the leadership team of a U.S.-based company.

Robert: My team and I believe we should have a booth at the Widgets Trade Show in London.

Sarah: London?! We don’t even have an office in Europe. We must use our marketing budget for the U.S. market.

Thomas: The Berlin Trade Show would be a better choice. London is so expensive and doesn’t have the reach into Eastern Europe that Berlin would.

Becky: I agree with Sarah that we should be focused on our primary market, the U.S.

Robert: My team was tasked with marketing, and London is what we decided.

Sarah: You don’t have the authority to go into new markets!

Robert: Developing new markets is what marketing means!

Thomas: Alright everyone, let’s cool down. Let’s revisit Robert’s plan at our next meeting.

Painful, to read, isn’t it? The discussion jumps all over the place, without shared understanding or exploration.

2 Rules To Transform Your Meeting Results

Rule #1: Only One Statement At A Time, Following A Question

One statement can be made at a time. Another statement can only be made in response to a question.

A statement is like a suitcase. In a suitcase we pack our facts, opinions, social status, and a lot of how-to. Each person offers a different suitcase as they make statements. As multiple suitcases (statements) are put forward, the contents of the suitcases (statements) often clash. But they usually only clash in part, not in whole.

Suitcases need to be unpacked to find what is relevant and useful, and where they agree and where they differ and why. Which leads us to rule #2.

Rule #2: A Question Must Follow A Statement

Ask a question in response to a statement. The pattern is: question, statement, question, statement, etc.

Asking more questions in your meetings will directly impact your results. Questions are an amazing tool to increase clarity, explore options, engage others, focus the discussion, and tap into the creativity and experience of others. Questions explore what could be, not just what is. They are tools to allow others to speak and new ideas to emerge.

Questions that begin with What or Why are very valuable for reaching understanding. How, When, and Who questions are valuable when it comes time to form action steps.

That’s is. Two rules. I’m sure you see the advantages of using them.

The 2 Discussion Rules In Action

Now let’s see these 2 rules in action with a re-run of the meeting we read earlier.

Robert: My team and I believe we should have a booth at the Widgets Trade Show in London.

Thomas: Why London?

Robert: Because we feel it’s an opportune time to jump into the European market.

Becky: What leads you to this conclusion?

Robert: Europe is in a recession right now, which works for us. Sales in Europe have increased 300% over the past 8 months. And we found a partner in Spain who can handle all the delivery and service for Western Europe.

Sarah: Robert, how would doing the trade show in London affect the marketing budget for the U.S.?

Robert: It’s a matter of allocation. We’d still do the U.S. trade shows, but we would spend a bit less in advertising. We would drop our two least productive advertising channels to pay for London.

Sarah: So, doing London wouldn’t decrease the U.S. marketing?

Robert: That’s right. Actually, quite a few of our U.S. wholesale customers attend the London trade show too. Sarah, are you concerned about U.S. marketing if we go to London?

Sarah: I was. I do not want to see our marketing decrease in the U.S. I’m okay with London as long as we have this understanding.

Thomas: Any other questions for Robert?


Thomas: Are we in agreement then?

[everyone agrees]

Robert: Thank you for listening and for your support. My team will make sure London produce results for us in Europe while continuing our main efforts in the U.S.

The pattern of statement, question, statement, question produced significant focus and understanding for Sarah, Becky, Thomas, and Robert. They got to the real issues and could speak to specific points.

These 2 rules are easy to implement. Ask the people at your next meeting if they would be willing to use the 2 rules. List them on a white board. We have ingrained habits, so ask the group to monitor one another to follow the rules. Also, watch for changes in the quality of your discussion.

Question: Use these 2 discussion rules at a meeting this week. Let me know how it changes things. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

    Keith is President of Creative Results Management. He helps busy leaders multiply their impact. Keith is the author of several books including The COACH Model for Christian Leaders.

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