group facilitation page title

At many companies, meetings are where the action is – and the distraction, too.

The Meeting Blues

At most large organizations, meetings are the central means for communicating and sharing information. And meetings come in all shapes and sizes – from large "all-hands" sessions and regular staff meetings, to "deep-dive" working sessions and off-sites, to quick status updates and impromptu check-ins. But too many meetings break down, and become impediments to the free flow of ideas, data and viewpoints. They are frustrating and feel unproductive to everyone – leaders, their direct reports and all the representatives from cross-functional project teams.

The symptoms of the meeting blues are all too familiar:

  • Distracted participants checking emails and messages
  • Presenters focused on vague, confusing or incomprehensible slides
  • Absenteeism and lack of punctuality
  • People talking past each over (as well as over, above, around and down to each other)
  • Time wasted introducing all participants
  • Overall lack of engagement.

So common are these that the endless or pointless meeting has become something of a joke in popular culture.

While sometimes laughable, bad meetings actually have serious consequences. Yes, they waste time and sap productivity, but they also block teams and leaders from reaching their full potential and, therefore, prevent the business from meeting critical goals. They can even damage cultures over the long term.

Hold Better Meetings through Liberating Structures

McCarthy Consulting helps functional executives and project leaders hold more engaging, productive and creative meetings. Our experts in group facilitation have years of experience and first-hand observation of the common pitfalls and behaviors that make potentially good meetings go bad. The goal is not to ensure everyone has a chance to talk and behaves nicely, but rather to facilitate real, substantive conversations among participants. The end results are more productive and more satisfying meetings – and briefer meetings, too. From critical strategic planning sessions to weekly staff meetings, we know how to design the agenda, set up the room layout and facilitate meetings for maximum productivity and engagement.

Our approach to group facilitation is designed to:

  • Streamline meetings – it's okay to move quickly, share information directly and adjourn early
  • Clarify – so everyone knows why the group is together and the desired outcomes
  • Build trust – creating space for candor, and helping people feel the freedom to express themselves
  • Establish accountability – participants are committed to the meeting and "own" their behaviors
  • Flexible and tailored – capturing and harnessing the unique dynamics and creative energy of individual groups
  • Drive engagement – get people talking to each other, not at or past them
  • Promote openness – ensuring all relevant voices are heard
  • Value-driven – complete the agenda, fulfill the stated purpose.

Believe it or not, there's room for innovation in designing, hosting and managing better meetings. McCarthy Consulting applies a unique methodology called "liberating structures" to speed up networking and introduction, and ensure there is fluidity and openness in meetings, without the risk of wandering off on tangents. While our general approach is simple – set up and run meetings as vehicles for meaningful conversations and substantive interactions – the results are powerful.

Need to Transform Your Meetings?

We support business leaders facing common challenges and barriers to productive, engaging meetings:

"The meeting seems only to exist for the leader. Everyone else is just waiting around to speak to their two or three slides. We need more engagement!"

"In the staff meetings, every question seems to be a threat, and the tone of answers is always defensive."

"If presenters sent the deck out in advance, we could focus on the two or three ideas and issues that matter most."

"Must we have a team-building exercise at every meeting?"

"The agendas are hopelessly long and ambitious, with too much recapping of things everyone already knows."