Is it hard to keep everyone focused in a meeting? Then yell “bananas”!

Effective meetings

It often surprises me how quickly a meeting goes from being productive to a waste of time. All it takes is one person who goes too much into detail or focuses on a minor problem. When this happens, the challenge is to get back to a productive state without anyone feels it is a personal attack.

Two elements are important for a meeting to be productive. First off, a meeting should always have a purpose. Everyone must know the purpose of the meeting before it starts (read more about that here). Secondly, the meeting should stick to that purpose. You want to focus on the things that move your project forward when you meet with your team. Especially when you meet for the daily standup meeting the 16th day in a row.

Now, what does this has to do with yelling “bananas”? I recently read the book “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek. He addresses this same problem in an interesting way. He establishes one rule every time he meets with a new project group. Yell “bananas” if you feel a meeting is getting off topic. It might sound silly but it works. It is a way to change the conversation back to what matters without anyone perceiving it as a personal attack.

We adopted this approach and it helps us keep our meetings focused. It might help you do the same.

Leave a comment