The five-finger meeting evaluation

Posted by Dermot Crowley on 26th February 2018

There is an old joke about meetings that I quite like. Not all meetings are bad – some of them are cancelled. Harsh, but funny. I write a lot about meetings in my new book, Smart Teams, and believe we can all get better with how we organise, run and attend meetings. But meetings are not necessarily a bad thing. We just need to keep our time in them balanced with our other work, and make sure that the ones we do attend are effective.

My friend and mentor, Georgia Murch, shared a strategy with me for quickly and easily increasing the effectiveness of team meetings. Georgia is the author of Fixing Feedback.  She suggests that meetings are a necessary, but expensive and resource heavy way to do work, so should be constantly evaluated.  An easy way to do this is what Georgia calls the ‘five-finger test’.

effective meetings

At the end of each meeting, get everyone to rate its effectiveness with one hand. Five fingers means it was excellent, one finger means it was pretty poor. This is a quick and easy way for everyone to provide their feedback. Then ask the fours and fives why they rated it so well, so you can keep doing these things. Next, ask the ones and twos what could be improved for next time.

If you make this a consistent part of your meeting process, you will be able to adjust as needed to keep your meetings engaging and productive. Changing the culture of your meetings does not need a major change initiative. It just requires you to do a few things consistently. Why not give it a go?


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