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At last! Here’s how to make Review Meetings interesting

Tags: Be interesting | Meetings | Leadership | Do more

28th July

Let me guess: your business does lots of Reviews – client reviews, staff reviews, quarterly business reviews (QBRs), weekly reviews and so on.

And let me guess again: they don’t add a great deal of value.

And they’re extremely dull.

Recently, a few of my customers have asked me about QBRs. Their criticisms have included that their current format is:

  • Pointless
  • Lengthy
  • Tedious
  • Time-absorbing
  • Energy-sapping
  • Unconnected to the previous QBR, so there’s no sense of building on last time
  • Emotionless – nothing exciting in there at all
  • Generally retrospective, with 90% of the time talking about the past, not the future
  • Generally negative, focusing mainly on what went wrong, instead of what went well

You might recognise some/all of these with the reviews you’re part of?

Here is a simple approach that eliminates all these problems:

#1 Interesting start

If you played Word Association and somebody said ‘review’, what word would you respond with?

Nothing positive, I bet.

So we’re already on to a loser – the title includes a word that everyone feels negative about!

So change it to something interesting.

Or if you absolutely must call it a Review, at least have an interesting subtitle containing the benefits to the audience of hearing it – “three simple ways to ensure next quarter’s even better than the previous one” etc

#2 Since last time…

Prepare a one-page summary of the highlights since last time’s Review. This four-column table works well:

  • Priority – list the business’s priorities in the left hand column
  • Actions – for each of the priorities, state the 1-2 main actions you took, to address them
  • Outcomes – for each of the actions, list the outcomes you got from doing them
  • Page ref – state the page number(s) where they can read the detail on each action/outcome if they want to

Why’s this work? Column #1 ensures they see why you’ve done what you’ve done, and that it relates to their key focus areas. Column #2 shows you’ve been busy. But, more importantly, #3 shows you’ve delivered tangible successes. Column #4 means they can easily find more detail if they want it. And, if they don’t want to… well, nobody ever minded a QBR meeting becoming shorter!

#3 Before next time…

Do the opposite of #2 – future, not past. Prepare a one-page summary of what’s happening in the next few months:

  • Priority – the business’s current priorities
  • Actions – for each priority, the action(s) you’re planning to take
  • Outcomes – for each action, the outcome(s) you’re hoping to get
  • Page ref – showing where to find supporting info

#4 Immediate, urgent actions

End by being clear what you are going to do next, and what you want the audience to do next

#5 All your usual stuff

After pages #1-#4, put all the usual stuff you include in your Review.

To deliver your Review: quickly run through the four slides #1-#4, then go back to slides 2 and 3, and ask where they want to focus first. That way, they set the agenda for what you talk about, rather than you just going through slide 1, 2, 3… 91, 92, 93…

Anything that makes it a two-way discussion about the past and the future; rather than a one-way monologue about everything you’ve done since last time.

(An added bonus: once you’ve done one Review like this, you’ll find future ones become shorter. After all, once you know where their main priorities lie, you don’t need to spend as much time on the less-important areas)

Action point

For your next Review, summarise your current content in the above four ways. Then, ask yourself whether it makes more sense – for both you and your audience – to start this way.

If it does, you’ve got a new approach which you’ll both prefer.

Even if it doesn’t, at least you now have a good Essay Plan to help you prepare for your meeting!

And, if you want another way to review how you are doing and – more importantly – improve on it, have a quick look at this: simple ways to improve quickly