googlecanlearnA recent New York Times Magazine Article (2/25/16) discussed the Google Project Aristotle, a painstaking, in depth study of what differentiates high functioning team meetings from others.

With all due respect for the yearlong study of over a hundred Google teams, as a communication coach and speaker, I have been helping teams and leaders foster productive meetings for years!

Google’s key findings, which I back with my experience 100%, are:

High performing teams:

•       Support an atmosphere of psychological safety and comfort

•       Enable equal participation from all group members over time

•      Show sensitivity to nuances of nonverbal behavior and tone,
and often share personal as well as professional information.

I appreciate the challenge of masterminding the right mix of talent, personalities, and action items.

Fortunately, it is often the easy tweaks that go a long way to enhance comfort, participation, and awareness of nuances in team members’ behavior.

Recently, I worked with a senior leader in financial services, Mike, who felt he had to be the driver of all meeting content and outcomes; in fact he saw it as his job. He was baffled that his group was so quiet, rarely initiated topics, didn’t show passion regarding action items and only engaged in small talk after the meeting.

Mike asked me how he could change things up. So, here are easy to apply team-meeting strategies I shared with Mike and other business clients:

1. Begin meetings with small talk, or each person sharing an observation or personal update.

2. Develop an agenda which team members are expected to contribute to. Research indicates that 1/3 of all meetings are viewed as a waste of time.

Change that!

3. Use meetings for discussion and problem solving versus only providing information.
One of my sayings is “Go from information to inspiration and impact.”

4. Do a round robin, going around the room approach when possible. The goal is to keep the talkers from dominating and enable the quieter folks to contribute more.

This is essential for equalizing talking time, a key ingredient for team success.

I know this technique can feel awkward and orchestrated at first. In the long run, though, team members will appreciate being valued and meetings will be considered worthwhile.

5. Have some fun and novelty with a bit of partying, lunch meetings outside the office, and appealing surprise guests. Refreshments always help. I had a client who wanted to tighten his budget by eliminating the snacks. I told him I’d give him the 25 bucks for goodies in order to save all the gains he’d made with my coaching.

Let me know how you add to your team meeting effectiveness.

May your next team meeting be a valuable one!

Laurie Schloff1Laurie Schloff- has a nationwide reputation as a speaker, trainer and coach, with a focus in presentation skills, one-on-one executive coaching, leadership training, conference coaching, and facilitation skills. Laurie is the author of “Smart Speaking”, “He and She Talk”, “Speech Gems” and is a frequent guest on radio and television, and has appeared on Oprah and The Today Show.
To learn more about Laurie and have her at your upcoming event, click here:


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