Let’s just put it right out there: pretty much everybody loves to hate business meetings. I’m on the record in support of meetings if they’re held for the right reasons and are run effectively. So, count me in the minority of people who think (some) meetings are OK.
The problem is, we humans can muck things up pretty fast. When it comes to meetings, the list of blunders is endless. From having the wrong people in the room, to not having an agenda, to being unclear about the meeting’s purpose, it’s a wonder anything gets done at work. And don’t even get me started on the interpersonal drama and office politics that can taint a perfectly well-planned meeting.
Happily, there’s a new book that addresses many of the barriers to holding great meetings. It’s titled, Essential Meetings Blueprints for Managers. Written by Sharlyn Lauby, HR professional and founder of the award-winning HR Bartender blog, Essential Meeting Blueprints is an indispensable reference guide for anyone who wants to run a better meeting. (Hint: that’s anybody in the workforce.)
In addition to extensive experience in human resources, Lauby also has a background in leading training classes. This professional background lends itself well to the creation of a very comprehensive guide on the ins and outs of planning, running and following up on meetings. Lauby begins her book by explaining that one of the fundamental problems with leading meetings is that the purpose in not clearly defined. She offers three categories of meeting types, saying that meetings should: provide information OR create a mechanism for decision making OR allow opportunities for feedback and discussion.
The problem, writes Lauby, is that meeting leaders often combine two (or even all three!) of these functions into one meeting. This creates confusion and inefficiency. She says, “Business meetings have specific goals. If we, as business professionals, plan and conduct meetings to their intended goals, they wouldn’t be the nuisance everyone makes them out to be.” I couldn’t agree more!
Essential Meeting Blueprints covers nine common meetings:
– Regularly scheduled status updates
– Brainstorming sessions
– Networking meetings
– Training meetings
– Employee performance conversations
– Focus groups
– Pitch meetings
– Strategic planning meetings
– Project meetings
For each meeting type, Lauby offers tips for things to do before, during and after the meeting. In addition to thoroughly covering the purpose and mechanics for each meeting type, she offers insider’s advice on the less savory elements of meeting management: dealing with gossip and power plays.
This book is jam-packed with useful suggestions for leading the best meetings possible. It’s infused with Lauby’s understated brand of humor throughout—the “mental flowchart” she offers for how to extricate yourself from an unpleasant conversation at a networking function is in itself worth the price of the book.
The word “blueprint” in the book’s title lives up to its promise. The plans outlined for each of the nine type of meetings are meticulously crafted. Just as a well-designed blueprint will help you build a structurally sound house, so too will this book help you create meetings that stand up to the rigors of the people who attend them.
Disclosure. I know Sharlyn Lauby personally. Therefore, it was a hoot to write this review and call her “Lauby” throughout. I did so because it’s the convention when writing a business book review. Sharlyn gave me a copy of the book for the purposes of the review, but she did not ask me to write a positive review. Because, well, that’s not how Sharlyn rolls. It’s an awesome book, so I’m thrilled to share it. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I may get a commission if you click the link and make a purchase.