Starting Your Meetings With Purpose

Adele hides in a box! How committed are you to starting your meetings well? Photo by Thomas Drouault on Unsplash

Adele hides in a box! How committed are you to starting your meetings well? Photo by Thomas Drouault on Unsplash

Adele is someone who knows about starting strong. On her most recent tour, Adele opened the show with the biggest hit from her latest album - Hello. It's a bold move going for one of your biggest songs early, but clearly one of the biggest pop stars of our time knows the value of starting with a bang. In fact, Adele is so committed to starting well that when she was performing in stadiums, she would hide in a box to ensure the start to her concerts had the impact she wanted. That's some serious commitment.

Adele appreciates the value of starting an event well and with impact. The idea is to get participants excited, engaged and looking forward to what lies ahead. When it comes to meetings, so many of us do the exact opposite. We start late, with a vague intent and having not really thought about the tone that we want to set with meetings. Sure, we aren't pop stars and people are unlikely to pay hundreds of dollars to attend our meeting (although their employers are!). We can, however, take the lesson and start with some energy and intent. As I say in this video, it's essential for a powerful meeting to have a purpose, start on purpose and stay on purpose.

Starting meetings poorly is often something that creeps into our meeting culture. It becomes OK to wander in a little bit late. It becomes OK to not have an agenda or one that has been rolled over for 8 months. It becomes OK for the loudest person in the room to derail our conversation. This creeps in over time and becomes the path of least resistance. It's easier to put up with mediocre meetings than to address it. In his great book on the Science of Meetings, Steven Rogelberg shares a story of a leader who locked the door at the starting time of meetings and those who were late were locked out! In a less extreme example of this, I have been known to sit in a meeting room by myself waiting for participants (despite walking past them). 

Meetings are often symptomatic of broader team performance and making the effort to improve them directly impacts on the engagement and performance of your team.

If you want to lift the performance of your team, you could do far worse than start your next meeting like Adele (metaphorically at least - not sure that it's wise to get wheeled around the office in a box!). A couple of questions for you to consider about the start of your meetings:

  1. What is one thing that could make the start of your meetings better this week?

  2. What is the best way that someone has started a meeting that you have been a part of?