Just because nobody complained to your face about the meeting you just led, doesn’t mean it went well.
You need to know whether it was effective or not.
You’ve got two basic options for making this determination:
- Ask the participants
How Do You Think It Went?
Assuming you have a good handle on what an effective meeting looks like, and if you have decent self-awareness; you’ll likely do a decent job of sizing up a a meeting’s effectiveness.
This depends, of course, on you taking the time to reflect on the question. Most of us are off to another meeting or a full email inbox. Sadly, we never give meetings in the past a second thought.
When I’ve done this exercise, I usually feel confident that a meeting I believed went well would be evaluated the same way by the meeting’s participants.
Oddly, my confidence isn’t as high when I judge a meeting as having gone badly.
There’s been a handful of times when I’ve thought, Geez, that didn’t go as well as I would have hoped. And in the next few minutes several people approach me with excitement in the voices to proclaim that was one of the most productive meetings they’ve ever attended.
All I can think is that I’m glad I don’t go to their usual meetings.
What Do Your Meeting Participants Think?
The people in your meeting will have opinions. If the meeting was a waste of their time, they’ll certain be vocal about it…to other people.
It would be much better to find out what they think and put that information to use making future meetings better.
Here are four ways to quickly gather participant feedback about your meeting.
Draw a line down the middle of a flip chart or a white board. On one half write the word “Keep” and on the other half the word “Change.”
Ask people to reflect on the meeting and yell out things they think should be kept or changed for the next meeting. You’ll need to encourage them to be candid about the problems they saw. This method is fast and usually yields an insight or two.
2. Letter Grade
Each person gives the meeting a letter grade (A-F). After recording the grades, ask people for one or two reasons they graded the meeting as they did.
If letter grades give you flashbacks, use a scale similar to the one in the picture at the beginning of this article. Those hand-drawn emoticons can be quite useful in drawing out people’s opinions.
3. Paper Survey
Distribute a short survey card at the end of the meeting that asks people to comment directly on the evaluation questions. You can combine a few quantitative questions with a couple open-ended questions. These could once again be something simple like keep and change, but now people don’t have to be so public in their opinions. If you need one, I’ve got you covered. It’s free.
4. Electronic Survey
Use a quick follow-up web-based survey. I’m a big fan of SurveyMonkey. This provides a way for the group to provide anonymous feedback.
Set up a standard survey and just repeat it to your group after every meeting. If you make it easy and act on the what you learn, you will help raise your group’s willingness to provide feedback.
Improve Your Meetings
It doesn’t matter how you collect the information. It only matters that you do collect and use it. The insights gained can lead to better meetings. Don’t miss this opportunity to make yours better.