The reason many meetings are unproductive is bad communication. The leader needs to know what the audience’s mood or understanding of the subject is, so he or she can explain it well.
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To achieve that, Fast Company recommends you “check the climate”:
Use a white board or easel pad to display a four-quadrant chart with these labels: stormy, calm, clear, foggy. Before the meeting starts, have each participant add checkmarks to quadrants that reflect their understanding and outlook about the topic. Leave the room or have your back to the chart during this process. If checkmarks cluster in stormy and/or foggy quadrants, you’ll need to add time for questions, explanations, and maybe pep talks. But if checkmarks cluster in calm and clear quadrants, surge ahead with new business.
It’s a simple way to get feedback without putting anyone in a spot. The logistics of how you fill that quadrant could vary depending on your meeting space or other elements, of course. For example, you could have pre-made chits with the four quadrants that you pass around and ask everyone to fill anonymously before handing back to you. The idea is to gauge your audience’s climate with efficiency and no backlash.
The full article at Fast Company has some other great tips to make meeting better, like dismissing unnecessary people. And now that you know what to do at the start of the meeting, you should also ask three questions at the end.
5 Tips For Fast And Focused Meetings [Fast Company]