I’m going to give you credit for being familiar with most of the rules for running effective meetings and recommend four meeting focus ideas I recently found that you may not have come across.
In our CoachQuest workshops, we ask participants to place their mobile phones in a big bowl. Maybe you do something similar. Here’s a rather clever idea I picked up from one of my LinkedIn groups.
Someone wrote how he gave large, personalized envelopes to every participant in a 60-person presentation. Everyone thought they were going to receive a surprise. Before he began his presentation, he asked everyone to put their mobile phones in their envelopes. Then he collected them and put them on a table near the door.
When you see distraction—someone gazing out a window or doodling on your agenda, someone else texting or talking to their neighbor—don’t do what your grade school teacher did and scold, “Do you have something to share with the class?” That will only build resentment.
Instead, bring distracted people back to your presentation respectfully with specific questions that reflect their abilities. “I know you’ve got a handle on the logistical side of this, Jennifer. What do you think we need to do next?”
Limit your meeting length to 20 or 50 minutes. This will give your team time to get to their next meeting in plenty of time. Your participants will be more attentive if they don’t have to worry about scrambling to their next meeting.
What about the person who habitually leads meetings off track? If you have to invite them, take them aside before the meeting. Acknowledge that they always have plenty to contribute and ask that they make an exception at your upcoming meeting. Give them a specific reason why you need them to keep contributions to a minimum.
If want more help on making meetings work, I suggest reading Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni and Meeting Excellence: 33 Tools to Lead Meetings That Get Results by Glenn Parker and Robert Hoffman.