Tuesday 23rd September 13:17

Team Meetings: 3 Discussion Techniques

teammeetingstechniquesTeam meetings are often regarded as one of the biggest drains on a team's time and energy. According to a University of California Los Angeles survey, a typical corporate meeting can waste $17,000 a year per attendee based on the length of each meeting and the amount of time wasted through wandering off the subject, people being unprepared and not listening, and the amount of padding and waffle. There are many obvious things you can do to save money on wasteful meetings such as deciding if they are really necessary in the first place and, if they are, managing them efficiently. But this still may not improve the effectiveness of the meeting. So here are 3 meeting techniques that might.

1. Dialogue

One problem that can affect your meetings is the pressure to agree. When there is a strong need to reach a decision that all the team must support, viewpoints are expressed more strongly, alliances may be formed, arguments are put more passionately, and people become entrenched. One solution to this is the concept of Dialogue. Dialogue focuses the meeting on exchanging information purposefully. It means standing back when you disagree and wondering: "Why don't we agree on this point?" It means being prepared to just listen without feeling pressured to agree or support a view. It means being interested in what others in the team think. Paradoxically, there is often more chance of agreeing when you take the need to agree off the agenda.

2. Waigaya

The natural sound of teams at work is not order, quiet and harmony. They are the sounds of groupthink, caution and conformity. A healthy team lives through the sound of chaotic communications, lively discussion, open disagreement, enthusiastic backing, laughter and noisy argument. "Waigaya" is a word invented by one of Honda's co-founders, Takeo Fujisawa. It is the sound made when people are in heated contention and constructive discussion: "wai-ga-ya-wai-ga-ya". Its nearest English equivalent is "hubbub". Now, at Honda plants, when a team meeting starts to lose its edge someone can suggest a Waigaya session in order to allow participants the freedom not to hold back and set some energy free.

3. The Talking Stick

Sometimes, meetings that are too loosely structured can deteriorate into numerous side discussions with everyone talking over everyone else. One solution to such disorganised mayhem is to use a "talking stick". The talking stick is a device that comes from a custom of Native Americans when having a "pow-wow". To ensure that everyone had a chance to speak and be heard without interruption, a talking stick would be placed in front of each elder in turn. He alone would speak without interruption. An "answering feather" could also be placed in the middle of the group and taken by anyone who wanted to respond at the end of the person speaking. The magic of the talking stick is that it allows everyone to say their piece and be heard with respect.

Wasteful meetings do more than waste people's time. They add to the toxic waste of frustration and annoyance that people feel whenever they are called to yet another un-thought-through meeting. If that's you, then try out these 3 techniques and see the effect they have.

More Resources on Effective Team Meetings

Discover how much your team meetings cost you with this free online Meeting Cost Calculator from talentdrain.

Solve your meeting dilemmas with the Meeting Guru at the effectivemeetings.com website.

Download your choice of team meetings products from ManageTrainLearn.