12 Acts Of Courage To Change Meetings For Good

Research shows that a great percentage of meetings are run poorly, resulting in huge losses of time and productivity. I believe that there are three main reasons that meetings continue to leave us wanting:

1) We underestimate the complexity of group thought.

2) Few of us are trained in meeting facilitation skills.

3) Boggled by group complexity and lacking requisite skills, we fall into dysfunctional patterns, failing to do anything to change meeting dynamics.

Given that there are eight times more participants than there are meeting leaders in your average group, targeting meeting leaders alone to improve meetings may be missing the mark.

What if we were to arm meeting participants with the basic knowledge, skills, and attitudes they could use to keep their groups on track and moving forward? The 12 Acts below were written to do just that, and to frame leadership as a quality anyone can exercise, no matter what their official position.

Act I: K-No-w It. Know what honors you and your time and to say “no” to everything else. Learn enough about the purpose of a meeting before it happens to make an educated decision around your potential contribution. This indirectly calls the meeting organizers to a higher level of clarity around their purpose—which is essential for the success of any meeting.

Act II: Ask for It. Get your agenda on the agenda. Get your personal and professional agenda added to the meeting agenda. Boldly asking for what you want provides the direction and energy that’s often lacking in meetings.

Act III: Prepare For It. Tap into your meeting genius by being thoroughly prepared. Knowing what and whom you need to know so that you are properly prepared for a meeting allows you to gracefully respond to challenges.

Act IV: Adjust Your Att-It-ude. Be curious, observant, and patient. The mindset from which you make interventions as a group member has a strong bearing on your success. Come from a place of curiosity when making suggestions and you will likely be heard. Be observant and patient to free yourself from judgments that limit your relationships, and to give others the chance to change.

Act V: Say It. Realize and express your truth in service to the group. For most of us, speaking out publicly is of our greatest fear. Getting clear about why you're afraid to speak, when it's time to speak, and how to do so makes expressing your truth much easier.

Act VI: Focus It. Focus your group on a common vision. Vigilantly challenge your groups to be clear on their objectives and to improve how they work together and you will set the stage for your group to actually get better over time.

Act VII: Park It. Keep your group on target by avoiding tangents. In a world ruled by distractions, it’s tough to avoid detours on the way to your objectives. A Parking Lot can help keep your group on course while respecting and capturing ideas outside the scope of the agenda.

Act VIII: Contain It. Contain group energy within operating norms. Effective groups need operating norms to establish healthy boundaries. Norms hedge against dysfunctional behavior that dilutes physical and emotional energy, while still offering participants the space to creatively pursue their objectives.

Act IX: Deliver It. Convert talk into action, decisions into deeds. One of the biggest complaints leveled against meetings is that, "Nothing ever happens!" Participants become disillusioned and tune out when this becomes the norm. Ask questions to encourage action in your groups.

Act X: In It, Not Of It. Avoid groupthink and access group mind—the way to enlightened decisions. The tendency to maintain harmony at all costs can harm your groups and the victims of your group’s decisions. Understand the symptoms and remedies of groupthink to stay connected to your group’s collective conscience.

Act XI: Facilitate It. Facilitate full participation. Fully participating group members support decisions made, offer access to the collective wisdom and experience of the group, and reduce the possibility of groupthink. As a participant, learn strategies to assure that full participation is achieved.

Act XII: It’s All Good. Transform conflict into a spirit of collaboration. Healthy conflict is an essential ingredient for group collaboration. Unhealthy conflict, that is conflict involving a winner and a loser, should be avoided. Adopt an attitude that any fight you engage in must be a fight to win--to a win that benefits all concerned.

These 12 Acts are thoroughly explained in my new book, This Meeting Sux…12 Acts of Courage to Change Meetings for Good. This book provides you with specific tools, strategies, language, and actions you can use as an empowered, facilitative participant to change your meetings and your life for good. Pick up the book, or the first three chapters for free at

Steve Davis, M.S., M.A. is the founder of, a virtual university offering training, tools, and resources to group facilitators, trainers, consultants, coaches, and leaders. Steve consults with organizations and individuals and offers workshops, training, and coaching to enhance leadership and collaboration skills.

12 Acts Of Courage To Change Meetings For Good

Quick Tip – Meeting Success

Prepare a written agenda for your meeting. Make sure that everyone at the meeting is aware of it, and if necessary, have the meeting agree to it. Then you can refer to the agenda to keep discussion focussed.


Better meetings

Bernie DeKoven explains what it takes to improve your meetings.


How to use an agenda for Meeting Success

Today's package is a series of free tips on how to use an agenda for meeting success.

An agenda is a one of the vital tools to keeping a meeting on track and efficiently effective.

And the first tip in the series? ...

The very first step on that agenda should be to reiterate the purpose of the meeting. This immediately focusses attention and makes it clear that the meeting is to be efficient. It also allows you to return to that statement of pupose to support any efforts to keep the meeting focussed.

You can get the tips sent to you in emails and know that you are will be on the way to having far more efficient, effective meetings. =>

Tuesday's tip for meetings that work

Have you been to meetings that don’t work, have you been responsible for meetings that didn’t work, or maybe you just don’t want to go to, organise, or participate in any more meetings that don’t work.

There’s Value in having meetings that work

… Because

 They waste time you could be spending on something more

 They waste company funds

 They create frustration which is bad in itself, but also creates a bad image of your meetings and of you/your organisation

 Information and processes are not managed efficiently

So let’s find ways to stop wasting time and money and to avoid the frustration. Let’s make our meetings work – efficiently and effectively.... See you next "Tips Tuesday"


The characteristics and mindset of an effective chairman

Are you tired of meetings that spend hours of time and money but achieve no outcomes?  Annoyed by lack of direction and beating around the bush?

Take this short course to learn the mindset of a chairman who can make your meetings  efficient and effective

Click here to enrol now, it's free

Meetings 101

If you want to have more effective meetings, first you have to learn the basics. Here are some simple, easy-to-follow and proven guidelines that should be followed each and every time your group meets.

Print this page. Hang it on your meeting room wall. Write the guidelines on a poster. Memorize them by heart. Do whatever it's going to take to improve your meetings!

Guidelines you and your group can follow before, during and after your meeting:  =>

Factors to consider in deciding to have a meeting

Decide: Is this meeting necessary?
Are there other ways to have the meeting rather than face-to-face or inperson?
Look at the various communication technologies and systems that you have and weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of each of these compared with an in-person meeting.
Could the meeting simply be replaced by a better reporting system?
A meeting has to be better than playing phone tag.  Email takes time to write and wait for a reply. If the issue is sensitive, then a face-to-face meeting will achieve more than impersonal emails or letters
Meetings can also generate a group energy that cannot be as well achieved with other media.
Can the people who need to be there, be there? Or, conversely, are the people who are invited absolutely necessary to the outcome expected?
Your decision in this regard will affect not only this meeting but also any in the future, because people will expect a repeat of the successfulness of this one.