How to Coach Yourself to Run Effective Meetings

Imagine that there is a meeting coming up today, tomorrow, or soon.  You have a feeling that the meeting might not go the way that you would like, and that worries you.  To reduce some of that worry do a little self-coaching.  By coaching yourself, your preparation for the meeting will be better and as you are aware, preparation relieves anxiety.

What follows are four executive coaching questions (along with several sub-questions) to ask yourself and answer to run effective meetings. Pick the questions that trigger you to take action. The objective is for the questions to elicit an action that you are willing to take to achieve the results you would like. The objective of the questions is to have you think about what you can DO DIFFERENTLY – NOW! 


  1. Set a Goal: What is your objective for the meeting; what results do you want? – WRITE THESE DOWN THE DESIRED RESULTS IN AS MUCH DETAIL AS POSSIBLE.
  • What would be the BEST outcome of your meeting?
  • What are you most afraid of?
  • How badly do you want your goals to be met?
  • How will failure to meet your goals reflect on your leadership?
  • What prevents you from just demanding that your goals be met?
  • How important is consensus building?
  • Is consensus-building more important than reaching your goals?
  • What do you believe the outcome will most likely be?


2. Look at History: What has happened in the past in similar meetings that prevented your objectives from being met? – WRITE OUT THESE STUMBLING BLOCKS AS BULLET POINTS

  • In the past, what or who has derailed meetings of this kind?
  • What prevented you from guaranteeing the outcome?
  • Who will be in the meeting that might derail the conversation?
  • What makes your goals worth achieving?
  • Have you ever sabotaged your own objectives?
  • Who must lose if your goals are met?
  • Who besides you will win if your goals are met?
  • How could you have better prepared to run effective meetings?
  • How has consensus-building disappointed you in the past?
  • What would your harshest critics say about you as a leader?
  • What would your harshest critics say about your goals?


3. List your Options: What options do you have to make the meeting go differently and meet your objectives? – WRITE YOUR LIST OF OPTIONS; NO HOLDS BARRED. WHAT IS THE MOST OUTLANDISH THING YOU COULD DO?

  • What options can you control, completely?
  • Who could support you in the meeting?
  • Is this the right meeting?
  • How might you change your plan to achieve your goals?
  • If you are not leading the meeting, how might you influence the meeting?
  • What must happen for the meeting to meet your goals?
  • How might you approach the participants in advance of the meeting?
  • What other objectives/goals have you considered?
  • If you were to act as an executive coach, advising one of your subordinates how to run this meeting, what would you tell them?


4. Decide to Act: What are you willing to do – right now to make the meeting better? – WRITE DOWN THE ACTIONS WILL YOU TAKE?

Too often, meetings become common place; routine. Few meetings are successful. Many meetings fall flat and don’t achieve the goals of the meeting leader.  Sometimes the meeting leader has even set goals. These meetings are very frustrating to the leader and the participants. Have you had meetings that resulted in little or nothing? 

By spending some time thinking and writing down the answers to the four questions you will be better prepared for the meeting to be successful. With better preparation and action, real change, real results with come. Have fun with it!  The worse thing that can happen is that you have the same result that you have had in the past, and most likely you will have better results.

Sometimes only one small change in the way meetings are lead can result in a major change in the results. If you are committed to achieving your goals and changing the results of your difficult meetings, action is needed. Action comes from coaching yourself and asking tough and challenging questions.  Be more direct and brutal. Hard questions demand deep thinking and courage to confront. But when confronted, truthful answers may be hard to digest but can be used as launching pads for change – DEEP CHANGE!! 

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Paul McBlaine