How to Run Effective Meetings in Business Aviation

Author By Steve Brechter

In Greek mythology, the Seirenes (or Sirens) were sea nymphs who lured countless sailors to their deaths with a bewitching song. At one point they were encountered by the Argonauts, who passed by unharmed with the help of Orpheus, the poet, who drowned out their music with his song. Odysseus also sailed by, bound tightly to the mast, his men blocking their ears with wax. What’s the connection between the Seirenes and business aviation? Meetings! Yes, meetings.

In business aviation we often so despise meetings that we allow ourselves to be seduced by the “Sirens”within the department who continually sing-out reasons not to have them, skip them, reschedule them, or avoid them entirely.

Why the aversion to meetings in business aviation? Why is the “Song of the Sirens” within a flight department often so seductive and convincing?

The reason is that meetings are often not run very effectively. As a consequence, they don’t create value and we try to avoid them at any cost. We use excuses such as, “the flight schedule is too heavy” or “key team members are on the road” as well as a myriad of other reasons that are, quite frankly, irrelevant.

The result is that communication lacks, important projects do not get done on time, nobody is aligned and the overall performance of the aviation department suffers.

This does not have to be the case. With some solid leadership and proven meeting management techniques,you can hold meetings in a flight department that get results and that people actually look forward to attending.

Here’s how.

Tips for Effective Flight Department Meetings

Keep Meetings Short

Frequency always trumps duration in running aneffective meeting. Four meetings of one-hour each are better than one four-hourmeeting. There’s rarely a reason a meeting should last more than an hour. Youare asking people to invest part of their busy day, so show respect for theirtime by honoring fixed start and end times.


Use a Focused Agenda

Many meetings fail because there is no agenda, no stated objective and, therefore, no results. They go on and on without an outcome.

Use of an agenda ensures that the objective remains in focus and the meeting produces results. The agenda should outline each discussion item, the time allotted, who will present each discussion segment and the desired outcome.

Potential desired outcomes can include ‘information,’ ‘consensus,’ ‘decision,’ etc. The agenda should also include a short ‘process check’ at the end where every attendee gets the opportunity to comment on how the meeting went.

If the meeting is of an ongoing nature, the agenda for the next meeting should always be set before the meeting adjourns.


Distribute Meeting Materials

The presenter of each discussion segment on the agenda is responsible for the preparation and distribution of any required meeting materials. Meetings often fail because attendees are not prepared for the meeting.

All attendees should be fully informed, prepared for the discussions and ready to make decisions once the meeting begins.


Use Substitutes

The fact that someone is ‘on the road’ or is otherwise unavailable forthe meeting is rarely reason to cancel or postpone a meeting.  The use of substitutes keeps the ball rolling.Appoint a substitute if you cannot make it.

Decisions, however, do not get deferred in your absence. Your substitute, or anyone else’s for that matter, should be fully empowered to make decisions on your behalf. In addition to maintaining momentum, this is a great way to develop your people.


Publish Minutes

All meetings should have minutes published and distributed to the attendees, plus flight department leadership as appropriate. The minutes should be no more than a page or two in length and summarize only the outcomes of the meeting, any decisions made and any action items that emerged. The minutes should be published within one business day of the meeting.


Assign and Rotate Roles

There are three key roles that should be used to assure an effective meeting. The ‘Leader’ runs the meeting, the ‘Recorder’ takes and publishes the minutes and the ‘Timekeeper’ makes sure the meeting stays on track time-wise.

If you’re responsible for the meeting you should assume the role of ‘Leader,’ but when possible, rotate the other two roles.

Doing so will result in more ‘buy-in’ to the meeting through greater involvement and can also be used as development opportunities.


Have Fun

The use of meeting management tools and guidelines ensures a successful meeting, but does not preclude making your meetings fun. Maintain levity in your meetings. We often use the ‘cheap shot’ concept, charging $1 for each cheap shot made. Periodically, the proceeds of the ‘cheap shot’ fund are donated to a charity of the flight department’s choosing.

While you may not need to “lash yourself to the mast” or “plug your ears with wax,” we urge you to avoid the “Song of the Sirens” and not let yourself or your team be allured into avoiding meetings in your flight department.

Using the tools and techniques above, efficient and effective meetings are within everyone’s reach. The result will be higher levels of productivity and performance for your flight department.

Share Your Meeting Management Tools and Techniques

We’re sure that you have used many of your own tools and techniques that have resulted in effective and productive meetings.

We’d like to know what they are. We invite you to share them with us in the comments below.

If you’d like to know more about the tools and techniques that we have outlined above, or would like a complimentary copy of an effective meeting management template, please feel free to contact us.