Camille Rapacz: Good morning, George.
Good morning, sister Camille.
I have a topic that I am very concerned about may just really trigger you in some horrible ways.
George Drapeau: Yeah. Okay.
Camille Rapacz: What is,
George Drapeau: what is it?
Camille Rapacz: We're going to talk about meetings.
George Drapeau: Ugh
Camille Rapacz: Yeah,
I know. See right away. Yeah. Like your first response.
George Drapeau: You know, actually, to be honest, yes, it is a triggering topic for me, but hearing you talk about meetings, I'm excited about that cuz I'm really eager to hear how you think about them.
Are we gonna talk about how to run good meetings or just about the bad parts of meetings?
Camille Rapacz: Well, you know, it's more fun to talk about the bad parts, but we really need, to help people and talk about how to run good meetings.
Let's have fun and talk about the, like I wanna hear what your meeting pet peeves are actually, so maybe we talk about that.
But we will absolutely tell people how to have better meetings because what I find is that people either I feel like they have too many meetings and not enough time to do their work, which I find to be very interesting cuz it tells me they're having bad meetings cuz meetings should be part of doing the work, right?
Or they're not having enough meetings. This is very common for small business owners. They're not having enough meetings and so it results in them not connecting with others on key components of work and they end up then firefighting later.
And I get it, it's hard to find a good balance, but before you even think about, we probably could do a whole other podcast just on what kinds of meetings should you be having.
I really just wanted this one to focus on how do you do them well? Okay. And then once you do them well, then you're kind of more open to, maybe I'm not having all the right kinds of meetings. If I did them well, I could see how these other meetings might be really useful,. But, for now, you are clearly having some kinds of meetings going on in your business.
Let's do them well. Yes, that sounds great.
Welcome to The Belief Shift. The show that explores. What you really need to know about building a successful small business.
I'm your host, Camille Rapacz: small business coach and consultant who spent too much of her career working in corporate business performance.
And I'm George Drapeau: your co-host and her brother. I'm a leader in the tech world bringing my corporate perspective, but mostly my curiosity.
Together, we're exploring beliefs about success and how to achieve it. But mostly we're bringing practical solutions so you and your business can thrive.
Camille Rapacz: Okay, so let's start with the fun part. Give me meeting pet peeves. What is the most annoying thing to you?
George Drapeau: You know, a lot of it comes down to lack of time management to me at all levels. You know, meetings go long, they start late.
Individual people don't pay attention to their time slots lot. A lot of time management problems are pet peeves for me.
Camille Rapacz: Oh yes. That's a big one for me too. When I was talking to someone about this the other day and she was trying to very kindly say, like we were talking about in her company, I'm like, what do you see happening that's going on with meetings that are causing them to not be good?
Meeting Pet Peeves
Camille Rapacz: And she's like, well, Sometimes people are just, they're talking and I feel like they're not really paying attention as they're talking, and it's kind of all about them, and they're not looking at the time. And she really was talking about a particular person.
So this is the other thing that I find happens. There's always somebody in the meeting who just feels like they don't have to follow the rules. Yeah. Right. And they just, they just go off and like, well, I know we're not really talking about this today, but now we are because I brought it up. You're like, wow.
Why'd you hijack the meeting? Very frustrating.
George Drapeau: Another pet peeve I have, I, when I just don't like, what are we meeting about? Like, we'll get right into it and the meeting person will start in, but I'm like, Hey, can we all get on the same page? What are we supposed to do in this meeting? I mean, it sounds simple, but that happens all the time.
I hate it.
Camille Rapacz: I know . Well, I'm actually a little bit glad to hear this because I see this happening enough and I was just like, is it just me? Like, what is going on? But do people just think this is the way it goes? But yeah, there's just this lack of context for things like, and I think this gets back to why we dislike meetings as we walk into them. We're like, I don't know what I'm here for.
If I'm not walking into a meeting and feeling like I understand the purpose, well, of course I'm gonna be annoyed by it.
Which also then leads to, we've talked about this before, I'm probably gonna be apt to multitask in that meeting. Yes. If I'm not really clear on the purpose.
George Drapeau: Yes. Ah, absolutely. That was my next one too.
Camille Rapacz: Yes. And the multitasking is, I find that to be quite frustrating in meetings when people are multitasking and you're like, it's very obvious as you're leading the meeting that somebody's doing it. If you're the facilitator, it's super annoying, but even if you're just participating, you're like, is everybody just not paying attention?
What's happening here? Right.
George Drapeau: Yeah, that's right.
Camille Rapacz: So we talked about the running over time, like you have 10 minutes of this meeting to do your thing. Mm-hmm. And when people don't hold to that, I find it annoying. Mm-hmm. But I also find it annoying when people do the thing of they're like, but just one more thing.
I'll literally as a facilitator say, okay, so we're gonna need to move on to the next topic. And some will say, wait, but I have one more thing to say. I'm like,
how important is it?
Like, is it, is it critical to have the conversation right this minute or do you just have to be heard.
And more often than not, it really wasn't that important. Yeah. They could have held it, right? Yeah. It didn't have to happen in the moment, but people do this all the time. They just aren't respectful of time or what you're trying to move through. Yeah. And they have to drop their comment in, right at that moment. Very annoying.
That's so true.
So many bad things. Yeah.
How to Have Better Meetings
Camille Rapacz: Should we talk about some stuff to do? Yeah, let, we can mix. Let's in a few what not to-dos as we talk about the what to-dos.
George Drapeau: Okay. That sounds great. We're both gonna have some good things about what to do to help get meetings on track that are not terribly painful.
Camille Rapacz: That's a really good point. I think that the idea that we have meetings that don't go well, And what it would take to fix them, it's actually not that hard or time consuming. Mm-hmm. Like if I give you this, I have this guide of like how to have better meetings. If I gave it to you, you might look at it and be like, that looks like a lot of stuff.
But when you actually do it in practice, it's really not a lot of time. That will vary depending on the meeting, but just preparing for a meeting depending on what you're doing. Like if I'm preparing for a, half day retreat, sure. That's gonna take me some time and it should.
I'm preparing for a one hour meeting, especially one that's recurring. That should be pretty quick for me to prepare for, but I need to prepare. Even if it's a team meeting, I'm having the same meeting every week. I still need to prepare.
And I think that's probably my number one message out of all of this is whether you are the facilitator or you are just a participant, whatever your role is in this meeting, you need to prepare.
If there's any, one takeaway I would give people is like, you must prepare for a meeting. And I think that's what we're not doing. Yeah. We're just not taking a minute to say, what is this meeting about and how do I need to show up? But we're gonna go into further detail about that. Okay.
So let's just talk about some basics.
So one of the things that I think affects organizations who are very meeting intensive. Yeah. You probably have had this right? Where the meetings are back to back. Yeah. And so what they try to do is say, let's start ending our meetings five or 10 minutes before the hour. Yes. Have you tried this?
George Drapeau: Yes. Google Calendar has a feature around that actually where you can schedule one hour meetings default 50 minutes, 30 minute meetings, default 25 minutes, and a lot of us have bought into that. It's nice.
Camille Rapacz: And do you actually follow it?
George Drapeau: So I do and I also give a little bit of grace like you, in that if it's end ends at 10 minutes before the hour.
We can take a few minutes to go over and we're still not completely ruining the next hour's meeting because none of us are walking from campus to campus anymore.
So Yeah, largely I do. Not everybody at our company does, but enough people have kind of bought into it.
Sure. Yeah. Surprisingly.
Camille Rapacz: I mean, it just makes sense. Because like the physics of you going from one meeting to the next is just so unrealistic, especially when people run their meetings late. It just makes sense. But I really find organizations have really struggled to do this.
When we tried this in a company that I worked for it was really hard to get people to do it, and one of my clients right now, I know it would be really hard to get them to do it. So we were thinking about experimenting with what if your meetings, you end your meetings on time. Mm-hmm. But you start them five minutes late.
George Drapeau: You know, I have to say that it's an unspoken practice where I currently work that they tend to do that anyway.
We're just not explicit about that. I think that is a great idea.
Camille Rapacz: Yeah. That's how it works for, yeah. It's interesting cuz I hesitate a bit cuz I think, well if you're explicit about it, the people are gonna take advantage of it and then they're gonna show up 10 minutes late, or 10 minutes after the hour.
But I think we should be clear, we're giving you five minutes so you have time to transition even if you don't have to physically transition. We are asking people to prepare and mentally transition from one meeting to the next, and we need to give them this time, right? Yes. Not to mention I might need to go refresh my cup of coffee or stop at the restroom, or there's other things that we might need to do as we're moving from one thing to the next.
So yeah, I just think the idea here is however you do it, if you have this in your company where you have lots of back to backs, it's really important that you make this gap.
And even if you're not, if your company is sort of growing, it's a good practice to do now and build that into your culture so that later, if you do end up having more and more meetings because usually that's what happens, the bigger the business gets, the more meetings you're having.
As you do that. If you built that into the culture when it was small, then it would stay there.
George Drapeau: You know, it's funny, you're absolutely right. I've never really thought about it that way, but time management is actually part of company culture. Our company culture has changed. Where some divisions in the company where I work where you start on time and if you join a minute late, you're hearing people already talking. That's their culture. They do things on time.
There's other parts of the company where the culture is just different. Time management is culture and it's therefore it's something you can define and change. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Sure. Yes.
Camille Rapacz: And I think the sooner you define it, the better.
Yeah, for sure.
That can be really challenging I think for small businesses because when you're in this startup mode, it's one of the things I focus on when a business is going from this sort of startup, you know, fly by the seat of your pants kind of mode where everybody's doing all the things and you're having to move into a much more stable position.
Like you're trying to go from startup mode into stability. Yeah, and this is a thing that I focus on is what is your culture of, I hadn't really thought about it as culture of time management. But that's essentially what it is. It is, you know, like what are the norms and agreements you're all gonna have with each other around how you're going to manage time.
George Drapeau: What do you mean? You didn't think, you just told me what it's, no, I didn't have this phrase of culture of time management. I didn't have that phrase. Yeah, yeah. But it it is a thing, right? It is. It's a thing. It is a thing, yeah. Yeah. Totally is totally. Yeah. Ah, just created new intellectual property here on the podcast.
Camille Rapacz: So one of the other things that comes up, and we're gonna have to dive into this deeper in a minute but I'm just gonna touch on it here as a basic. So another basic is you gotta distribute agendas before the meeting.
But what I really mean is you need to tell people what the purpose of this meeting is. They need to know why they're showing up. That's really what you need to do.
You don't necessarily need a minute by minute agenda. I mean, That's nice. You should kind of know how you want the conversation to flow. Yeah. But what you really need is for people to know what are we trying to do in this meeting?
Yeah. And how are we going to accomplish it? Right? Yes. That's the whole point actually of having an agenda, which is usually missed when people make an agenda. Yeah. So we're gonna talk about that in a minute, but Awesome. That's another basic, like, just make sure people know.
George Drapeau: Yes. Can I tell you something else?
I noticed in Google Meet these days, in Google Calendar, they added a feature, I don't know, some months ago, and our company is a Google Google shop. Nice thing about the calendar is they make all kinds of things easy to add standard stuff like what's the location, if there's a conference room standard people you meet and it makes good guesses about whom you wanna invite. It's pretty smart that way. But one really nice thing is related to meeting notes and stuff. So if it's a video conference and you tell the calendar, set up a Google Meet video conference for this.
Then afterwards, if you've recorded the meeting, it will attach that meeting video to the calendar appointment. So you go back later and look at your calendar. There's the video of what happen. Similarly with meeting notes. It will set up a place where you can just start typing, meeting notes, or attach an agenda.
If you attach your meeting notes, then it's right there. So like to, oftentimes I have so many browser tabs open. It's a mess. I don't have to worry about that for some of my meetings because I'll just go to the meeting. There's the link to the notes for that meeting, and I'm all ready to go. It's great.
And I have to admit, that's not something I've always done myself. It's a good practice, but I've failed more often than I want to admit.
Camille Rapacz: And I think it is one of those things that you have to really pay attention to. It's kind of like any habit that we create, we do have to put energy into it to keep it going.
But the payoff is great. And I love what you were just talking about with the, how Google Meet works and all of that, because I think part of this is also people finding the best tools for them to manage all of this. Mm-hmm. And then holding some consistency around that.
Because I find that to be one of the struggles I see small businesses just like, well, we have this and then we have that, but we don't really use this well, and they just haven't designed a good system in a process to support all of this. Yeah. Whether it's about meeting notes or meeting recordings or however that happens. So yeah, that's really important.
Which kind of leads me to this idea of the other basic is just the idea of embracing standardization for your meetings. Oh, and lots of people really kind of resist this idea of standardizing things in the business. Hmm. But it's so important if you're gonna operate at a high performance level in your business, basic stuff like how you run a meeting, there should just be standards that everybody's following.
Yeah. Imagine all of the wasted time and effort and chaos that you're just, imagine how much of that you could get rid of if you just have these basic standards. Where do I find the meeting notes? Yeah. Right. So really important. That would be my other really basic, what do you need to do? Embrace this idea of creating standards for your meetings.
So that's really what we're talking about today is what are some of those standards, but you should adjust them for your business. But these are really just like the basic things that I think everybody should focus on.
George Drapeau: Yeah, those are great.
Camille Rapacz: So back to my most important one of you gotta prepare, let's just talk about what does it mean to prepare? Because it's not just like, oh, what's my next meeting and where is it? And where's the join button?
So as there's meeting preparation for both you, if you are facilitating or owning this meeting, but also if you're participating, like I said before, no matter what your role is, you need to take time to prepare. Yeah. So if you're facilitating this meeting, the very first two things you need to ask yourself is, what's the purpose of the meeting?
Or the way I like to think about it is, what problem are we trying to solve? Yeah.
Every single meeting should be focused on solving a problem. If it's not, I don't know what you're doing. Like, why are you meeting?
And if the terminology of problem, some people, we don't have any problems. We're trying to brainstorm this new product. Think of it as, I'm trying to close a gap. I'm trying to close this gap between we're here today and we wanna advance this project to this next level.
Or we want to, advance this product or service we're designing to this next level. I think of it as a, there's a problem in here to solve in order to get from here to there.
Always a purpose and an objective. So that problem you're trying to solve, it could be one that requires more than one meeting.
Right. Okay. We're trying to design this new product or service. And in today's meeting, what does a good outcome look like today? What is the objective of today? Because the objective today could be we just need to agree on the strategy going forward. Yeah. Or we just need to agree on specifically who are the customers? Like who is this for?
Or we're gonna agree on that, and who is the team who's gonna do the work? So, yeah, you've got the problem to solve and then you've got very specific objectives for, we need to walk out of this after this hour or 30 minutes or however long you're meeting, we wanna walk out with these things decided or done or whatever.
George Drapeau: Yes, agreed. I'm thinking about this because the outcome of any meeting should be some sort of action. Your meeting because you want to define action to be done, or you've discovered that action is being blocked. So you're meeting to remove that block, right? There's, yeah. So what's the actions are gonna happen.
What are people gonna do? Yes. Not just talking.
Camille Rapacz: Even if your meeting is to inform, you should be informing for a reason. Yeah. Which is to create the next step, the next action. To your point, also, every meeting's gonna end with the next step. What do we do now? Right? Where do we go with this? Yes.
Yeah. I either communicate information or I solved the problem, or I made a decision, or like any number of things, right? Yeah. So yeah, absolutely. It needs to be focused on, I got to this point so that I can then make the next move. Take that next action.
Once you have all of that, then you can say, well, if that's what my objective is, then what's my process? What's the approach to this meeting? Hmm. Is this a collaborative brainstormy type of discussion? Okay. Is it I need individual people to present because they are experts on these topics? Is it like I'm gonna present an idea and we're gonna have a bunch of q and a. Right. So people can get clarification on a topic.
And then are there tools involved? Are we gonna be physically together and using my favorite tool of Post-its on the wall? Mm-hmm. Are we gonna use my other favorite tool when you can't be together, you know, in person, but you're using Miro, which is like Post-Its virtually, there's other versions.
I think if Trello as being more about managing the work. Yeah. And Miro is actually a really open, creative Yeah. Space. It's like having a big whiteboard.
An infinite whiteboard. Yes. It is an infinite whiteboard, by the way. We learn that the hard way. It's hard to find things. Yeah. It just keeps going. Yeah.
So, these are virtual tools that you can use that help you interact in a conversation instead of just having it be talking all the time.
Also, does the process require some pre-read material? Do you want people to read something before they come into this conversation? I think you've mentioned that there have been meetings where. You gave people the first five or 10 minutes to absorb some material before starting the meeting, which I also think is great and brilliant, right?
Yeah. But just thinking about the, what's the process that's gonna really ensure I get this outcome I'm looking for? And I think this is the most critical thing that we fail to do over and over again, is what is the best process in order to get the outcome that I'm looking for? And it's usually because, like when I ask people this question, well, what's the ideal outcome for this conversation that you wanna have next?
Almost 99.9% of the time they go, huh, that's a really good question. I have to think about that. They literally had not thought about it until that moment, really. So really this is very common that we're just, we're having the next meeting, but not really thinking about what is it that I actually wanna get done?
We know we wanna move things forward so we know we need the next meeting, but we haven't gotten specific enough about, but in what way am I gonna move things forward in that meeting? What is the specific objective? Okay. And that can change everything about your approach, right?
George Drapeau: Yeah, for sure.
Camille Rapacz: So again, if you're like, I don't have time to do this for all my meetings, yes you do, and your meetings will be better and you will get more done faster if you just take time to do it. Once you start to do it, it doesn't take much time. You'll get faster at it. Like, oh, if I wanna do that, oh, last time I wanted to do that, I took this approach and it worked well. So I'm gonna do that again. So you'll get better at it as you're running meetings and doing it in this way.
Yes sir. In the back there with his hand raised. Yes sir. Did you have a comment?
George Drapeau: Hi, longtime listener. First time caller.
I had a meeting last week that was literally group therapy.
We recently announced round of layoffs at the company where I work, and it was shocking for a lot of people, And I've gone been through this before. I sent, sent a messages to the group saying, tomorrow we're gonna have a 30 minute group therapy meeting. Kind of meant that lighthearted, but seriously, we gotta talk.
And in that meeting, I definitely prepared for it by saying a little bit about, look, here's what you need to think about getting ready for grief. Here's my take on where it happened. I had a few prepared notes that I wanted to get through in maybe five minutes because people are weird, but I had some notes.
And then I told people, all you need to do is come ready to listen and share feelings if you want. But also in that meeting, even though it was about just everybody kind of sharing how they're doing and getting comfortable and being part of group experiencing together, even though that was the main purpose of the meeting, I still had an action.
I still gave everybody one simple thing to do to coming out of it, partly for psychological reasons, like if you're in stress, you can't take a whole lot, but it also helps to have something to focus on. Yep. But it's a meeting. Like you said in the meeting, there is a next step and there's an outcome and it was a useful outcome.
I guess what I'm saying is even in a meeting where you feel like it's a touchy-feely meeting, every meeting I agree with you, has an outcome, has some action, or next step I right?
Camille Rapacz: Yes, absolutely. And I, what I love about what you said is you really helped them. By telling them what to do coming into the meeting.
Yeah. Right. Here's what I want you to bring to this meeting because I'm sure they were already high stress, they were already feeling anxious. They're probably just like, what, what am I, what are we gonna have to do in this meeting? Am I just gonna get more bad news? So giving them something to focus on and do as they come into the meeting, I think is great.
Which is one of the steps in here. It's actually my last step, so I don't wanna skip over these other two. But you are touching on all of these as well, which is once you have that process, you are then deciding who needs to be in the meeting, who are my participants? And then are there any specific roles for anybody?
Do I have somebody I'm gonna call out to present on a topic? Do I need to ask somebody to take notes for me because of the format that we're gonna use? Is there a key decision maker or a timekeeper? Or you could have these different roles that would make your meeting go better. You don't have to have them in your meeting, but it's a consideration.
Do I need any of these roles in this meeting? Yeah. The bigger the meeting, the more likely you are to have somebody playing another role for you, right? Yes. So think about that. Then once you've done all of that, then you can make your agenda. Yeah.
People always think the agenda is first, but it's not. Because the agenda is basically you just saying, well, now that I've made all those decisions, here's how it's gonna be executed. So that's typically like timed out from eight to eight 10, so-and-so's gonna introduce the meeting from eight 10 to eight 15. We're gonna talk about the, you know, it's usually timed out in that way.
It doesn't have to be, like I said before, you don't really have to have specific timed agenda. Like you probably didn't have that for that meeting, right? No. You say, okay, I'm cutting everybody off. It's 20 minutes after I'm done listening to you. We're moving on, right? Yeah. So it doesn't have to be a timed out agenda, but there should be some sense of like, here are the three things we're gonna do.
And if it's just we're gonna have a conversation, we're gonna have a therapy session, then you say that we're gonna have a therapy session, and then we're gonna talk about some next things that we can do. Everybody's gonna have something to take away.
Because I think what was great about what you said too is, I think of it as people need to feel they have some control, and that kind of news is the worst in terms of, I don't have control over anything that happens right now with one of the most important things in my life, which is my job.
Yeah, absolutely. So giving 'em a sense of control that's a brilliant leadership move. Kudos to you, George.
George Drapeau: Thanks Ma'am.
Camille Rapacz: But yeah, the last step is you've gotta inform people. So telling them why are we meeting what to expect. I love that. Giving them something to bring to the meeting. So I'll often pose a question to people, like, I want you to think about this question as you're coming into this meeting.
Mm-hmm. Which really helps set the stage for what are we gonna do right. How we're gonna think through this problem. Yeah. And communicating expectations to any specific roles you set up. Am I asking someone to present? And if I am, what is the purpose of that presentation? I'm being clear about that. So you're not just being like, Hey, would you talk for 10 minutes on X topic?
Well, that could mean anything. Yeah, so you have to be really clear. So for example, I was setting some people up for this meeting that I'm gonna be facilitating. There's a series of presenters and I wanted to make it clear to them I didn't want them to spend a lot of time creating a fancy PowerPoint cuz that's not the way we want the meeting to go.
And they needed that cuz otherwise they were going to, cuz that's kind of the norm for this organization. But it's a waste of time. We don't need the PowerPoint for them to make the case or present the information that I know they're already an expert in and can present. So doing little things like that is just really helpful as people are going into their meeting.
So, okay. Would you add anything else to this in terms of as the owner of a meeting, how you would prepare?
George Drapeau: I'm thinking. No, this covers everything I would wanna do. You're clear about what you're coming and the intentions coming into it. This clear, what you want is the follow on. You've told people what to expect. I have one more comment. Which I think you've said all through, but maybe not explicitly, which is you could have lightweight versions of all of this, and it doesn't have to be super structured. All these components can be very lightweight. They're very, very simple.
Camille Rapacz: Yeah. I totally agree with that. I think the more lightweight, the better. If you just can touch on all these things and make sure that you're like, yep, I got that. I got that. That's why I want it to be clearly, yeah, the agenda doesn't mean all timed out. It could just be here's two bullet points of what we're gonna do.
George Drapeau: Yes. This is, I mean, this is great.
Camille Rapacz: The next part of preparing is as a participant. So as a participant, you might be like, well, I just show up, right? Mm-hmm. Well, show for one. Please show up on time. Yeah, be kind. Show up on time. But prepare. So look at the agenda or whatever somebody has sent out about the meeting.
Once they've gone through all that work, make sure you know what the point of this meeting is and if they haven't sent an agenda or you don't know the purpose of the meeting, I think you should ask. Yes. Can I ask what, what is it you would like us to accomplish in the meeting?
Don't ask a jerky question, like what are we all here for? Or what's the purpose of this? Like, don't be a jerk about it. Just say, I would love to get some clarification on how we can, help today or what's the purpose of this? How do we make it happen? You know how to ask well versus jerky. Yeah, so help things along if you feel like that's not clear.
But then most important I think, is just before you go into any meeting. And when I started to do this, when I was in my mode of back-to-back meetings all the time and I started to do this, it was so helpful. So I would just stop and this is when I would at least have 30 seconds walking from one conference room to another.
So I at least had this moment to prepare, but I just spent 30 seconds thinking about what are my intentions going into this room? And as a leader in the organization, that was really important cuz I had to think about how do I need to show up in order to support whatever this meeting is about. Yeah, what do I know about what we're trying to achieve in this meeting and how can I show up in my best way as a leader to support this.
Which means I'm not the leader of the meeting. I'm just participating. But there are still things I can do from my perspective to support it. Like okay, I'm gonna be the one that makes sure that all the voices get heard. Cuz I can see that's gonna be important in this conversation. Or maybe I'm gonna focus on really making sure we've got clarity cuz I know there's a lot of people in this meeting that tend to not really ask clarifying questions cuz they're a little shy about it. Mm-hmm. They're not comfortable doing it. Right. I'll be the one who's gonna do that. So just thinking about this intention as you go in, or maybe your intention is, I'm gonna make sure I say as little as possible because I think it's more important that all these other voices do get heard.
Right. So really thinking about your intention again, it only takes 30 seconds to sort of think about how do I wanna go in and help support the best outcomes for this meeting.
George Drapeau: Yeah, absolutely.
Camille Rapacz: But easily missed. I think if you could build that into the culture of an organization, man meetings would kick-ass.
George Drapeau: Yeah. That'd be great.
Camille Rapacz: Everybody walked in with that. Sometimes what I do, because I'm not part of an organization now, I will ask people, say, here's what we're trying to do, so I want you to, and I do this in different ways, but sometimes it is, I want you to just take a minute right now and write down two questions you have about this topic, or just take 30 seconds and think about how you can help us today accomplish x.
I kind of make the space for them to set their intention in that way. Yeah. I get better responses when I do that, because when they're running like crazy from one thing to the next, and they just need a minute to like focus their thoughts, right?
Yeah. We all do.
George Drapeau: Yeah, we do. We really do. The Amazon practice, Amazon was the company that starts up the meeting with reading. They have this practice that is weird to me, but I've taken part in it and it's great. The first 20 minutes of a meeting, everybody spends quietly reading the narrative. So you, whoever's running the meeting or the people running the meeting create a narrative, they write down what, so just to be discussed, the main ask, there's a structure for this document, and it's not lightweight really.
There's a lot of effort on the people in the meeting, but. Everybody comes in the meeting. Nobody has to have read anything beforehand or prepared and, and because you're all gonna sit and do study hall for 20 minutes, you're all reading the same thing. And that guarantees that by the end of that 20 minutes, everybody has read the same thing and is ready to talk.
It's fascinating. It's weird, but it that totally makes sense when you think about it, you know, and it, it works. That's more than I've been willing to do. I love that practice, but I have not been willing to institute that practice for myself, but I really respect it.
Camille Rapacz: I think on paper that sounds great.
No, but executing it as somebody who would, like, if you are one of those people who owns a lot of meetings, I would spend way too much time trying to prepare the narrative. That's work. That's a lot of work. It's a lot of work. I have to, the same idea of I have to create, creating a PowerPoint. At least I'm not trying to.
Make every point on the PowerPoint. I'm just trying to put the key points that I'm gonna speak to cuz I'm gonna make the point as I talk. Yeah. So that takes less time.
If I had to write it all out. That's a lot of work. Like kudos to them for doing it because it also does, that does require you to be really much more thoughtful about the points that you want to make.
Yeah. But I could see it be really hard to sustain.
George Drapeau: It is. It is hard to sustain. Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, It is. Yeah. You have to be serious man.
Camille Rapacz: It's really frustrating cuz I think some of the best practices for business are just really hard to sustain. Yeah. We talked about this when we talked about Lean.
That's a lot of my struggle with Lean and C P I is just mm-hmm a lot of the practices that could really help. Businesses are also just, they're just really hard to hold in place. Yeah. Yeah, it's unfortunate.
George Drapeau: It's a good point. It's a really good point.
Camille Rapacz: And it really goes back to human nature.
It's hard for us to do the things that are really good for us in life. We have a very hard time sticking to them, whether that's for our physical health, for our long-term financial health. Like there's things that are just very hard for us to stick to, right? Mm-hmm. Long term. It's kind of just, I don't know.
It's amazing the human race is doing as well as it is. Yeah. Well, yeah. I mean, I guess that's debatable, but yes. Okay.
All right, so that's all the prepare stuff, and again, I love that you emphasize this can be very lightweight. Mm-hmm.
Purpose, objectives, process participants and roles, agenda, and then inform.
Yeah. You just gotta hit those points. Light touch on each of those. Most of it's gonna be a no-brainer for you. The only time this gets to be more work is when you're creating bigger, more complex meetings. But for your everyday meetings, you should just boom, be able to do this. And yes, you should do it for every single meeting, including a one-on-one.
You should be really clear about what's the purpose of the two of us having a conversation? Yeah, right. For sure. So just means some of the other stuff is easy, like participants. And process. Like some of that stuff will probably be really easy for that meeting. So that's where it's like, don't skip steps.
Just know that some of 'em are just super obvious and easy, but you should always have all the steps. Yeah. Awesome.
Camille Rapacz: All right, so let's talk about what goes into this agenda template just for a minute. Okay. And I don't think we need to talk about all the gritty details here, but I just wanna make this point that I kind of brought up earlier, which is that we think of an agenda as that timing of what's gonna happen. But what really matters in this agenda template is that you're communicating to people why we're here.
So what problem are we trying to solve and what's the objective? That's really what people need to know. The timing might be important depending on what you're trying to do.
Usually I do that because I'm trying to communicate to them, this is what I need you to help us hold to. Cuz if we don't, we're not gonna meet our objective. So if I have a series of conversations, I've got 10 minutes on this topic and then 15 minutes on that, and then the last 15 minutes we have to hit this or else we're not gonna make it.
I need my group, my meeting participants to know that. And so that's how I want you to think about, do I need to put timing together? Yes. If it's something that, it's really critical you move through each of those pieces in order to get the outcome that you're looking for. Hmm. Does that make sense?
George Drapeau: Yes, it does. Yeah, absolutely.
Camille Rapacz: So when you do that, it does start to change the way you look at how the meeting should go. The other thing I think that's important is to make sure the end of this should have, and you called this out, you gotta have next steps. What are we doing next? And usually I have people, you know, and this is where you're starting to take notes into your, you know, you can use your meeting agenda template to also be the notes.
That's what I like to do. Yeah. I have my template. Yeah. And then this is what the meeting's about. And then I have my notes section at the end, right? Yeah, absolutely.
And that's where you wanna make sure you're also capturing like, what were the next steps, the assignments, the, you know, what are we doing from here?
And if you don't have any, then I'm not sure why you met.
So that's just high level. I just wanna hit on that in terms of agenda template. Really think of it as I need to communicate the right information to the people about this meeting, and that's what should go in it.
George Drapeau: Yeah, I think that's cool. Okay.
Camille Rapacz: All right. So let's just talk now about just like the general, and this is maybe where you can put in the what not to dos if you want, George.
Okay. So setting expectations for just everybody going into a meeting. So number one is please show up on time. And for some people that means early. Yeah. Somebody has a saying about if you're on time, then you're late. Yeah. So yeah, think about showing up a little early. Being on time is important.
Make sure you're keeping your focus on the purpose and meeting objectives. And if you find yourself starting to drift, that probably means maybe you need to call another meeting about another topic. Or maybe you need to ask the facilitator, could we add this to another agenda? Yeah. In the future? Putting it in the parking lot for later, like, but making sure you're not trying to work your topic into this meeting just because it came to your mind. Yeah. Yeah. That's not very respectful.
George Drapeau: No it's not.
Camille Rapacz: Which is one of my big ones, which is be respectful. Keeping the conversation on track. Sometimes that does mean you have to interrupt people. Hmm. And this is like a conflict, right? Like, I'm gonna be respectful. I don't wanna be rude and interrupt them. But actually the rude thing is to just let people run on and waste everybody's time.
If you start doing the math of the money that's costing in the room, you quickly go, oh, I'm cutting this conversation off right now. Yeah.
George Drapeau: I told you about the Elmo doll that I, one of my teammates. Yeah. You know, that Elmo doll for Sesame Street and somebody will, anybody can use it if we're talking and if it's going on too long, somebody puts Elmo in the middle of the table and says, Elmo Enough, Let's Move On. Elmo. Just great. Such a nice way of addressing that problem. You know, I do like that. It is a nice, it was really cool to do it.
Camille Rapacz: Yeah, I usually just tell my, clients up front I may cut you off if I think we're going down a path and I need to pull us back. Not because what you're saying isn't important, it's just we don't have room for it in this timeframe.
George Drapeau: How do you do it?
Camille Rapacz: It's harder when I'm virtual, right? Because people are blah, blah, blah. And sometimes you're trying to get to talk over them verbally. But usually I will just say, Hey, so-and-so, I wanna stop you right there, and here's why. And I'll explain, you know, I hear what you're saying.
I wanna table that for later. I wanna get back to this point. I think you're, you know, I usually do that kind of thing. I just kind of actually interrupt them. If I'm with them physically, I'll kind of put my hand up as like, could I just pause you for a minute? Knowing that they can actually see me .
Sometimes when you're on, you know, virtually maybe they're looking at a presentation or it's like, I don't know if they're can see my face or not. Yeah. So it's a little bit harder. You have to be a little bit more forceful, and it depends on the person. Some people get it right away, and some people they just, they don't know how to stop talking.
Like they think their thing is so important, they just can't stop talking and you're just like, oh gosh, they just have to finish their sentence, I guess. You know? They can't be like, oh, what? Yeah. So you just have to persevere.
So being respectful means helping to keep that conversation on track. So don't just make the facilitator do it, but you can help do that as well as a participant in the conversation. When that happens, it's actually really great when teams are helping each other stay on track. They do it respectfully and they all appreciate it.
And again, sometimes interrupting is a respectful thing to do.
Be succinct. I know this is really hard for lots of people. Yeah. And for some reason the bigger the leader, the harder it is. I don't know. This has been my experience, like the higher up the food chain, the harder it is for them to stop talking.
I also find this is troublesome with people who have a little bit more of like a salesmanship approach. Cuz they're always in that mode. And they're like, well you don't need to sell to us. We just want the point.
So think about that. How can I be succinct in as I communicate? And again, just how can I make this meeting better? How can I support the desired outcome?
And then my other one, my favorite one, which is like the George one, is this is like, what would George do? Be curious. Yeah.
Ask clarifying questions. Seek to understand, not just to be heard. Yeah. Sure asking questions will move a meeting forward like nobody's business.
And you have questions. I know you wanna be heard. We all have an opinion and we wanna put it out there, but you will move a conversation forward more with a question than an opinion.
George Drapeau: It's so true. Oftentimes I'll find myself in a position where I don't know exactly what we're driving to.
I think I do. And you look around and it seems like everybody else is on board. That's rarely the case I've learned. And I'll say, okay, wait, can we just review what's the action we're talking about? Or what's, what's your point here? And the meeting person was usually happy to explain or summarize, they're happy to do that.
And then I'm clear. And then other people like, oh, they have questions come out cause they weren't really clear. It's good. Yeah. If you can ask clarifying questions. Absolutely.
Camille Rapacz: Yes. And you know what? As a facilitator of a meeting, it is so much appreciated. So much appreciated when people ask. Know that you are supporting whoever's running that meeting when you try to get clarification on topics.
Mm-hmm. Because they wanna walk out with everybody on the same page. Yeah, and you're helping them do that. So it's always great when you can ask those kinds of questions. I love it. Yeah. Yeah. Cool.
What else, George? Would you add anything to our general norms?
George Drapeau: I like these a lot. These are great for me to go to. I'll tell you about one thing that I've seen in meetings a long time ago and I haven't seen lately. So if you're in a kind of meeting where there's a lot of different representatives from different departments or different stakeholders or something like when I was in a product group and they would have the weekly product group meeting, the product manager would run it, but there'd be sales, engineering, marketing and other, other people around.
That's a very busy meeting and usually. That meeting is structured around what does each department have to report or bring issues to the table and the report status or get some action. The product manager would invite these people in and when they were done would dismiss them. Dismiss them!
Mm-hmm. So like the person. Who came in didn't have to sit there for the whole meeting. They knew they only had to sit there for their part and then they could go back to their business. But also it reduces the meeting size. So you always have kind of like the right number of people. Like you mentioned before, don't have too many people in the meeting.
Yeah. More than you need.
Yeah. And this is a really interesting way of dealing with that. And I kind of wish I would do that more. I, I don't, cuz it's not easy to coordinate. But man, those are some of the most crisp meetings I've ever been in. They're amazing. And when you have a good person facilitator running that and saying, okay, you're done.
Leave now you're excused. It's, yes, it puts, it puts everybody on alert. It's great. Have you ever seen this?
Camille Rapacz: Yeah, I used to run a meeting like that. So it was whenever we were running through, we were managing the portfolio of strategic projects in the organization and we had this monthly meeting with all the VPs where people would come in and make a case for a project that they wanted to start.
Hmm. And they had to get it approved by this committee in order for it to go. So my job was to take all of that information in, make sure they had made the case. They're basically putting together a business case for their project. And then they have to come and present to this group, but they only have so much time and then they're out.
And then this group would then at the end talk about all the different things and we would talk about how many projects were in play and whether we should do them or not. And so people had scheduled time slots when they had to come in and present and then get out. It was great cuz people would call me, they're like, can you help me prepare for this?
I'm like, yes I can. And they would just have their meeting presentation skills would be leveled up. Yeah. Because I'd be like, well how important is this conversation? And that, like, they'd had to pick and choose what they were gonna say in their time and how they were gonna present it and who was gonna present with them.
You can't bring your whole team, you have 10 minutes. If you have all those people talking, it won't be just 10 minutes. So it really made them think clearly about how to present information.
Kind of that idea of what we were talking about where you had to do the narrative in the Amazon version of meetings.
It's that like you really had to spend time doing it, but it, it mattered in this case cuz you were making a business case for the, you're asking the company if they would spend oftentimes, millions of dollars on a project. You were Shark Tank. We were kind of Shark Tank before Shark Tank, huh?
Mm-hmm. Yeah. Shoot. We could have done that. Yeah.
George Drapeau: So I've found this view, and I have both done this in the past. It's a great meaning technique when it works, it takes a lot of effort. I'm not sure how I would fit it in here, cuz this rubric works I think across the board. Beginners could do this and get value out of advanced people can do this. This is good to remind people who've been doing meetings, Hey, are my meeting skills?
My meeting chops up to date. I'm not sure where this thing that I'm just talking about fits into, but it's really cool. There's probably other meeting variants or other technique variants that we haven't talked about that are also really effect, like the Amazon narrative thing. Neither of us really runs our meetings that way.
It's cool, but you're right, it takes a lot of effort. So I, I'm not really sure to say about these things. Yeah, I mean, I think let yourself, here's some great things you could overwork yourself on.
Camille Rapacz: The idea is like as you get more advanced in how you're having meetings, there's obviously other ways and methods and tools that you can use to do that.
But you're right. What we're talking about today is this virtually applies to every single meeting that you would have. You must do these things if you want them to go well. And if you're feeling like meetings are not productive in your company or like, you know, I have too many meetings and I don't get enough work done, you're just not doing it right.
Cuz you can get a lot of work done in meetings if you're really focused and you're effective with them in this way. So that's really the big takeaway is, and even the like, people who I think, think they're the best at meetings and we do do agendas and all this stuff, they always look at this and they're like, oh, you know what?
I'm actually not doing this step very well. Yeah, whether it's inform or setting an objective be or setting an agenda, there's always these little things that we can improve. So I would encourage everybody to just take one aspect of this even if it all it is, is I'm just gonna be more intentional as I go into meetings.
That alone could change things in a huge way.
George Drapeau: Absolutely. I have a pop quiz for you. Two questions. Okay. Go. Okay. So one is, if you could think about any meeting anywhere in the world, any group, is there a meeting you would love to sit in on and see how it's run? Huh? Now I have my own answers for these.
I can go first or a second.
Camille Rapacz: I always think about the meetings that bill Gates as having at the Gates Foundation. Hmm. I wanna know how a meeting like Bill Gates himself at the Gates Foundation. Yeah. Not just any of the Gates Foundation meetings, but when the ones he's in, like when he's in the meeting.
Actually, I would love to see how a meeting goes when he's in the meeting or running the meeting versus when he's not at a company of that important.
Right. Like, yeah. What they're doing is so important and critical. Like I imagine that they're just a very mature and advanced organization and I wanna know if the way they run meetings matches that. I think a high performing organization should have these very effective high performance meetings. And so I'm always curious, like, but do they mm-hmm.
Or are they mm-hmm. Just as bad at it as the rest of the companies that I see. Right. Yeah. That's a great one. That's, that's what I kind of wanna see. It's just like, how does that go?
George Drapeau: That's a great one. Yeah. Now I want to, as well, my answer would be in the United States government, I would like to see how meetings in the situation room are run.
Camille Rapacz: Oh yeah. Yeah. I mean, I, I feel like I saw that with the West Wing.
Are they really run that w I don't know. I would like, would like to know and let the prince, that's how I, that's how I want to imagine they go, George. Yeah.
George Drapeau: Second question. Do you have a favorite meeting scene from any movie?
Camille Rapacz: Oh my goodness. Okay. A favorite meeting scene. Okay. I don't know if it's my favorite, but literally when I was like, what meeting scenes could I think of? I'll tell you the first one that popped in my brain. Yeah. The first one that comes into my brain is from Office Space. And it's when the main character, I don't remember his name, he's sitting there with the, is it the two Bobs?
Yeah, he's sitting there and he's basically telling them his truth because he's, you know, been hypnotized and so he's basically telling them how, yeah, I don't really work that hard and I just show up and do X, Y, Z. And so he's just being blatantly honest about what a horrible employee he is.
Peter. Yes, Peter is, and they're completely into his conversation. Basically he walks out of there, like the most brilliant guy in the company when he just told him he's the laziest guy in the company. Yeah. I like that meeting. That's a great meeting.
George Drapeau: For me the one that comes to mind is the scene and The Hunt For Red October, where Jack Ryan has just flown in and his boss, Admiral Greer is bringing him. He's, he's figured out what's going on with the submarine. so Gruer is bringing him into a meeting of all the military leaders. President is not in that meeting, but his chief of staff is and he's the one who's running the meeting, has the snarky comments and all that stuff. That's great. Yes, yes, yes. Yeah. It's one who has the candy jar. Do you have something to say, Mr. Ryan? So Greer is walking him down the hallway to, toward the meeting Jack Ryan's being prepped on the way in and everything about the meeting is fully set up for him.
Greer just says, just say what you think. He tells 'em what the, the audience is like, what he is there to talk about. Just share what you know. That's what you're here to do. There's gonna be questions asked, and so like 10 seconds before the meeting, he's told what he's supposed, his participant's role.
And then he goes in and he just starts talking and. All the visual materials are set up for him. He doesn't even have to pick, like somebody knows what kinds of photos to send and, I mean, it's a movie of course, but it's perfect meeting cuz all the information is there. He just talks, somebody else is putting up photos to back it up, questions back and forth.
It's clear what they're supposed to try to do at the end of the meeting. It's a, to me it's a perfect, high stakes, very crisp meeting.
Camille Rapacz: Isn't that also when he says he's up there talking and then he says, oh, and do we have a picture of that guy? Like he even just like there's something that's not prepared.
Yes. But of course they have it. Yes, that's exactly right. Yes. Yeah. Yes. I love that. Is that also the meeting where after he sits back down Greer turns him and he is like, geez, I told you to speak your mind Jack, but geez, Jesus. Right? Yeah, that's a great one. It would be so awesome to be able to show up to a meeting and just have all the materials, just whatever I needed to talk about, show up.
It's a perfect meeting in my view, yeah. I love that meeting scene. What, what a contrast to the meeting that I picked.
George Drapeau: You know, what's in common audience? Both of these people are speaking absolute truth, unvarnished truth. Right? That's true. That's true. Exactly the same. The stakes couldn't be higher. The stakes couldn't be lower. Yeah. Oh my goodness. All right.
Camille Rapacz: Well, on that note, I think we're gonna wrap this puppy up.
That sounds great. Well, good luck with all your meetings, everybody.
If you have questions or comments or thoughts about meetings, please leave us a voicemail. We wanna hear from you. You can go to thebeliefshift.com and leave a voicemail.
We'll talk about you on the air, or we won't. If you wanna be anonymous, you just tell us whatever you want us to do.
Tell us your favorite meeting scene from a movie or TV show. We'd love to hear that too. Oh yeah, that would be awesome. Yes. Yeah. Yes, do that. Just do that. Just leave us that.
Yeah. We wanna know because maybe there's some that we have haven't watched and we need to go see them. Yeah. Yeah.
All right. That's all we have for this week. We will be back in your ears next week.
George Drapeau: See ya everybody.