Too many people dread meetings. They complain there are too many of them. They accomplish too little. The right people don’t attend. And so on.

We hear this all the time. But we’ve never heard people say they were dissatisfied with meetings where action resulted directly from the meeting itself. Never.

So do you have actions coming out of your meetings that move you in the direction of your objectives? If you don’t, there are two things we advise our clients to weave into the fabric of their meetings: Make promises and make requests.

A promise is how you get yourself to take action.

A request is how you get someone else to take an action.

And having both of those as required elements in every meeting can immediately increase the effectiveness of your scheduled sit downs.

Think of it like this: Even when a meeting is all over the place in terms of agenda, if you make time at the end to run through requests and promises, you can ensure that some action will come out of that meeting. Perhaps the meeting leader requests that an accounting manager follow up as soon as possible on a set of cost projections for a project that’s slated for next year. The accounting manager then has the option to accept or decline that request — depending on what she thinks is realistic — or make a counter offer to the request. Alternatively, perhaps a sales director in that same meeting promises to bring updated sales numbers from your West Coast operations to the next meeting. In either case, everyone leaves the meeting knowing that some action will be taken and knowing who is taking that action.

That kind of assurance and accountability results in effective meetings and satisfied team members. And it’s as simple as making sure the word “meeting” becomes synonymous in your organization with two other words: “request” and “promise.”

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