Meetings, questions and Oprah

journalsLike many, I am an Oprah fan. How can you not be when you see the things she has achieved? This will be the first of two posts where I use Oprah as my springboard to consider certain aspects of life. Sometimes we make a connection without understanding the connection. This post is a good example of exactly that. I started reading about conducting meetings and suddenly it became so much more.

The article in question comes from Thrive Global Stories. In it Brendon Burchard, the author of High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way, says Oprah starts every meeting the same way, no matter the meeting topic. Brendon says she asks three questions:

“What is our intention for this meeting? What’s important? What matters?”

Such basic questions and yet there is so much more here. Why? And, why have I chosen to build a post around this? Well, because almost everything we do involves a meeting of some kind, including the one that has some of us sitting at a computer. The computer and the individual come together to produce, to make decisions that require negotiations so that a reader can reap the benefits. A corporate meeting is no different. People come together to make improvements by discussion.

Meetings have a reputation and are dreaded by those involved. They, or we fear the boredom of repetition, we fear accountability, and some of us believe we already know everything there is to know. Worse, we often and rightly so, have heard it all before and have not seen the promised changes.

Why does Oprah ask these questions, these three particular questions and why take up a blog post with it? If we approach our ventures asking these questions, we set boundaries. We all secretly and sometime openly seek to be high performers, and high performers need clarity. True clarity means sifting out distractions, so we can re-focus on the important things. If we just focus and not re-focus, we are unlikely to see a difference in what we are doing.

meetingsDeclaring our intention on arrival or at the beginning, means we are clarifying our purpose and not wasting time on the inconsequential.

“That’s why no meeting agenda should include words like information, recap, review, or discussion. Productive meetings often have one-sentence agendas like, Determine the product launch date, or Select software developer for database redesign.”

Before a meeting starts, or from the moment we sit at our desk, or enter a classroom, or pull apart an engine, we must be aware of our goals, our end goals. We are there to solve a problem, edit that chapter, or sell a product. Non-urgent information has no place inside the chosen meeting venue, and our agenda must reflect this. Today I sat down with the specific intention to create this post. This was, is and will be my agenda until I complete it.

Meetings are wonderful because once priorities are established, all involved can prepare in advance. Obviously, there is a need to invite people whose expertise can help attain the set goals. When I sat down to write I had a copy of the article in front of me. It was the article that set me on this path. Don’t think sitting at a desk on your own is a different conversation to Oprah holding a meeting. The principles are the same.

During that time period when we find ourselves inside the meeting bubble the leader needs to ensure the agenda gets followed and goals are met. The purpose must not be pushed aside. Hands up if you turn on the television, or the radio, or make a snack, or get a drink all under the guise of normality but, in truth is an avoidance technique. Isn’t this the basis for disliking meetings? We believe them to be a get together where we talk around issues and nothing gets solved.

Set an agenda, stick to the agenda, and don’t allow any complaining to distract the goal of the meeting, the day, the project. Re-direct constantly to that intention, to what is important.

At meetings attendees “need a record of the decisions made, and a plan of action for next step”. As a writer I need the same. I need to record where I got to, and if incomplete (and most likely it will be) I need to know what next. Write it down, meetings have minutes, writers have journals or diaries.

At the end of the day it’s all about future meetings and a boost to the attendee satisfaction, and this depends on the way we approach the current meeting.

Well this post is finished so I am off to meet up with my journal, so we can sort what to bring for the next post meeting.

Ciao for now,



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