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Anese Cavanaugh

February 27, 2014

Creating Maximum Energy and Impact for Your Team Meetings

There are basic truths and goals you should hold dear for your meetings, ie. having clear outcomes, an agenda, clear next steps, clear roles, accountability, and a way to communicate outcomes and key tidbits to those who need to know….

But what about the weeds that crop up on your path to success? The additional things that pop up in planning that could easily be addressed up front through some pro-active engagement and leadership that suck energy away from the momentum of your team’s discussion and efforts? Consider how you address these elements and clear a path for the highest levels leading (and participating in) your most productive, effective, and energizing meetings.


Before You Meet…

Have someone “own” the meeting, someone who will pull it all together and make sure the container is tight and clean. This serves everyone’s mental energy on
the team, as ONE person is the lead for making sure logistics are cared for, the right people are there, etc. It’s just easier. It shouldn’t always be the same person, rotate the role if it works for your group. Just make sure that someone is leading the logistics and planning of the meeting. You’ll prevent a lot of snafu’s and energy drains that happen when this isn’t in place.

Make sure everyone is clear from the beginning (pre-meeting) about the context of the meeting
and the time needed. It may seem obvious, but this can easily be overlooked when moving fast… especially in organizations or with teams who are meeting heavy. Ever been in one of those?

Make sure that the RIGHT people are in the meeting and for the right reasons. Every person in that meeting will benefit from asking him/herself ahead of time “Do I really NEED to be in this meeting? What can I contribute? What value do I want to bring? What is my intention going into this meeting? Am I going for the right reasons?” (Lead even before you get to the meeting. Going because your ego wants you to or because you don’t want to be “left out” are not the right reasons.)

If there’s pre-work that will support efficiency and intentionality beforehand, give it to them as far in advance as possible, and if applicable, a “please have back by”
date. Sometimes you’ll need to assimilate data before you’re all together to make the best use of time – in that case, give folks the date you need it back by. If you don’t need it done before, simple ask that they come prepared and ready to roll.


The “Doing” of the Meeting…

At the actual meeting “get in front of it” as a team. Revisit the agenda and outcomes, the time agreement (finish on time or EARLY), clarify who’s doing what (in terms of facilitation, taking notes to share, managing the “not now, later please, parking lot”, etc.), and revisit or presence any agreements needed to help your team have the best experience possible. (These would be things like: no cell phones, no side bars, no gossip, assume good, etc.)

Self-care as a core agenda item please. (Don’t skip this one, I promise you it will rock your meeting in many separate and powerful ways.) First, hydrate. Please, please, please, hydrate – this has a huge impact on performance and energy. Make self-care during the meeting a foundational element regardless of how long the meeting is. Feed that brain and body well. Take breaks; every 90-120 minutes is optimal. Even 5 minutes to “get out there” and release all the charged energy and brain space taken up in the last 90-120 minutes.

Appreciate, appreciate, appreciate. And then appreciate some more. Before you close out your meeting, and even better integrated throughout, take some time to acknowledge people on the team, and the team as a whole, for things that have been done (in the meeting or out) that you appreciate. This is open to all members, for any reason – big or small, elaborate or mundane. The whole point is to get the energy humming and buzzing, and to have people feel seen.


The “Being” of the Meeting…

Be intentional about your presence and the energy you bring into the
meeting. Your mood and “vibe” will “show up” in that room. Judgment, frustration, agitation, blame, etc. even if your silent, people feel it. Gratitude, excitement, joy, ownership, accountability, collaboration, etc….good news, same thing. So set an intention, before you even walk in to that room, of how you want to show up, what you want your impact to be, and how you want to be experienced. If you let it, this will guide you in your body language, tone of voice, presence, pacing, the way you look at people, everything…

Be intentional about what you want to get out of the meeting, and what you want to
contribute. Know what you’re working on ahead of time and come prepared to help things go right in creating the outcomes needed from this meeting. The mindset of contribution and gratitude and “let’s help things move forward together” does wonders here.

Watch your energy, presence, and body language throughout the meeting. Your facial expressions and posture say more than 1,000 words (even if they’re not directed or meant towards the current situation). Awareness is 70% of the battle here. Diligence and action are the other 30%.

Be curious. Be helpful. Assume good. If you’re not sure, be curious. Always strive to be helpful. And when in doubt, assume good. There is most often (in my experience 98% of the time) a positive intention for what people come up with…even if it’s not clear in the moment. Get curious, what’s that positive intention? Seek to understand and you will build beautiful bridges together.

Be present. Period. Yes, you’ve 8,000 things to do… don’t we all? Put your phone away. Stop the multi-tasking. Be courteous and give folks your full attention. Stay present with your team, honor your agreements, stay intentional and on track, and you will save yourself a ton of mental, emotional, and physical energy… and likely time. Not to mention build credibility and trust.

Please don’t limit this to just your team and biz meetings, apply these to any meeting, any size, where you want to have impact, be productive, and let those you care about know it.

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About Anese Cavanaugh

Anese Cavanaugh is devoted to helping people show up and bring their best selves to the table in order to create significant positive impact in their lives. She is the creator of the IEP Method® (Intentional Energetic Presence®), an advisor and thinking partner to leaders and organizations around the world, and author of CONTAGIOUS CULTURE: Show Up, Set the Tone, and Intentionally Create an Organization That Thrives (McGraw Hill, 11/15). As a leading voice on intention, energy, and presence in leadership and culture, she helps people unlock greater leadership potential, collaborate more inspiringly, create more openly, intuit more bravely, and lead more joyfully and effectively. Top innovators and executives in companies like IDEO, Zingerman’s, Cooper, GM Financial, Vistaprint, 15Five, Fitbit, Nike, Vivayic, Kaiser Permanente, and others have engaged with Anese to strengthen team health, maximize leadership impact, and optimize company culture. In addition to appearing in publications like Harvard Business Review, The Huffington Post,, and the NY Times, Anese writes for in her column “Showing Up”. She has just published her most recent book THE LEADER YOU WILL BE: An Invitation (a leadership storybook), and is currently working on her next book, CONTAGIOUS YOU: Unlock Your Incredible Power to Influence, Lead, and Create the Impact You Want (McGraw-Hill, Fall 2019).