I have avoided having a full team meeting at BSLM for as long as humanly possible. Many meetings I attend are too long, unfocused, leaderless and happen at times of day when I am starving, leaving me no choice but to daydream about my lunch choice. I typically leave meetings wondering about clear, actionable next steps other than “find food.” But, I knew it was inevitable, that the time would come to bring our, mainly remote, team together. That day was yesterday.
I knew I had to take definitive steps to make the planning and execution of ours enjoyable, or at the very least, tolerable. Here are a few things I did to that end.
I scheduled our team meeting about 8 weeks in advance and was careful about how I described the gathering. I made it clear this was not a super serious, Brooke-talking-about-boring-things, type of meeting. It was instead a special occasion, a gathering never before seen in our company, and, for us, a milestone. I respectfully requested the presence of each team member, highlighting the meeting as an opportunity to be a part of the bigger picture. I also made sure everyone knew there would be plenty of food.
Naturally, as we do with things we are scared of, I put off sitting down and actually figuring out the structure for the meeting day after day. As the weeks went on and I kept ignoring this task, I decided to dedicate a little notebook (Muji A6 Double Ring Lined, Gray) to recording the random thoughts that popped into my head about what we needed to discuss, what might be good to bring up, what needed a good solid group think, etc. I kept adding to my notebook as the weeks went on and the meeting drew closer. I decided I would not look critically or organize this list until the week before the meeting. This way when I sat down with the monster list the still pertinent and vital topics would pop out at me, fingers crossed.
Creating An Agenda
The week before the meeting I pulled out my trusty notebook and got down to it. There were lots of scribbles and I discovered many of my notes echoed one another. There were themes, thank god, that I could clearly discern. Using the great new, free application Agreedo.com, suggested to me on Twitter by Julian Jansen (@JJansen83), I started plugging in agenda topics and making notes about the importance of each item. Little notes and reminders could be easily and neatly nestled under large categories, and Agreedo was so pretty and fun to use that before I knew it I was done.
Refining the Structure
After I pulled together the big ideas and created a good solid draft of an agenda I got down to the details. How could I facilitate the discussion of each agenda topic so it was engaging? I came up with interactive activities for each topic to get the conversation rolling. These activities called for our team members to get up and moving and talking to one another, instead of just talking to me or to the large group one by one. This helped, not only introduce and dig deeper into our agenda items, but also provided an opportunity for everyone to continue getting to know one another. I built in stretch breaks, food breaks, chat breaks, iPhone checking breaks – we all need them.
The morning of the meeting I woke up with butterflies in my stomach. Considering I spent most of my time in front of audiences of hundreds as a performer in my past life, that is saying something. I knew I had a solid plan, which I know makes everything possible, but could I execute and not just freak out?! I took a deep breath, had an extra cup of coffee and reminded myself why I and started this company in the first place. Then I ate a croissant, mumbled a jumbled Sanskrit/Hebrew ish prayer and went for it.
During our meeting I tried to pay close attention to everyone, making sure people had all the time they needed to ask questions, bring their ideas to the group and understand the concepts we were discussing fully. If people were looking bored, I was prepared to ask why. Leading this meeting was a growing opportunity for me too after all!
We had a great meeting and now I’m not so scared of the next one. Per usual, having a solid structure and taking it step by step proved the best tools in my belt. I was a little exhausted, but thrilled with the results.
If you have any ideas, or recommendations about meeting planning and execution please share them in our comments! I try to get better everyday, so thanks for your help.
Post authored by Brooke Stone