Most people hate meetings, a lot.
Responding to a 2015 Harris poll, 46% of people said they’d rather do “almost anything” over a status-update meeting. 17% said they would choose to watch paint dry, and 8% claim they’d rather have a root canal.
Admittedly, this just proves that 50% of all statistics are made up, inaccurate or exaggerated.
Still, we can agree that most staff meetings (or similar) are a drag and most people dread them.
In the face of this knowledge, your first option is not to have these meetings at all. When choosing between a terrible meeting that demotivates people and nothing, by all means cancel the meeting, send a memo instead, and see what breaks (if anything).
But you can also give your meetings a huge shot in the arm by reminding yourself of the 3Cs of great meetings: communication, connection, and celebration.
Communication is probably the meat and potatoes of your current meeting. We get together to share (ostensibly) essential information. To improve the quality of your communication, send content in advance, and expect people to have reviewed it before the meeting. Use the in-meeting communication to give context on what’s already been shared, emphasize key points, and have a discussion—limit yourself to the things that you can’t write down.
It’s the other two Cs that nearly always get short shrift.
Connection is the big one. I remember, two years into my first real job as a management consultant, noticing that I was consistently spending more of my waking hours with my work colleagues than with my girlfriend (now wife).
Without connection, these hours feel empty.
You can build in connection with rituals at the start of a meeting. Google CEO Eric Schmidt famously started all staff meetings with “trip reports” both about work and about his team’s weekend. The point was to give everyone a chance to experience one another as whole human beings, and to remember that we are more, and have more to offer, than our job and role at the company.
Celebration is the most rare. Why is this? Maybe we’re embarrassed to praise someone in public or to be praised. Maybe it’s just hard to deliver compliments in a genuine way. But this is a muscle we can easily build. Just think, in advance of the meeting, of something a colleague did last week worth celebrating. Best of all, this doesn’t need (and shouldn’t only) to come from The Boss. It can come from anyone to anyone. The easy shortcut: sentences that start with, “I really appreciated it when you…”
You’ll want to figure out how to make the 3Cs, communication, connection and celebration, work for your own culture. It will depend on how formal or informal you are, how important hierarchy is for your organization, and how you approach structure or lack thereof.
But all meetings—especially staff meetings or other regular comings-together of larger groups—should have elements of all three Cs, each and every time.