No doubt, we all spend too much time in meetings. And yet, Meetings are an essential way to get team projects completed…if the meetings are productive.
Have you attended a meeting in which a lone participant has usurped the agenda and single-handedly derailed a quick discussion into a protracted waste of everyone’s time? Meetings can quickly devolve into sharing stories, giving unnecessary opinions, offering unrelated historical perspectives, expressing personal fears or worries, and heading off on tangents such as current events, sports, or politics.
One simple change will make sure meetings work.
When you detect that the discussion has gotten off-track and is beginning to derail the meeting agenda, simply call “Relevancy Check!”
Calling for a relevancy check is a request to query the group. It puts the speaker on pause for a moment, and invites the other members to weigh-in on the point being brought up. Then the group decides whether the current discussion is germane to the topic or the purpose of the meeting. If it is not, you get back to the main point of the discussion. If it is, take the detour and find out where it goes.
More often than not, asking for a relevancy check will table the point being raised. The group can also choose to take up the point at a later time or assign individuals to handle the issue offline after the meeting concludes.
For any meeting to work you need ground rules that are agreed upon before the meeting starts.
Examples include, turning off mobile phones, keeping side conversations to a minimum, keeping to the time constraints, and so on. One of your ground rules must also be: “Anyone has the right to call ‘Relevancy Check!’ if they feel the meeting is veering off-course.”
This simple procedure may be the single most powerful technique to keeping meetings on track, making them more efficient and productive. Best of all, everyone gets how it works very quickly.
© Paul R. Scheele, Ph.D. | Scheele Learning Systems | All Rights Reserved