If you are like most people, your calendar is littered with meetings. Business meetings, personal meetings and appointments. We are #busier than we have ever been...Or are we? Maybe we are just wasting more time than we ever have?
Most #employees suffer from meeting fatigue. #Meetings have become the catch-all for business communication, problem solving, brainstorming, etc. For some reason we have this idea that the only way to accomplish anything is by gathering people in a room or huddled around a conference phone. Meetings in theory seem like a good idea, and in certain circumstances they are. But most of the time, they are unnecessary and very #unproductive.
Think about the last few meetings that you have either hosted or been an attendee at. How often did the following happen:
The first 5-10 minutes were spent trying to figure out the conference line, the overhead projector, the web conference, or waiting for late stragglers.
There was no clear agenda.
The meeting content could have been summarized in an email.
The meeting has no relevance to your role.
Only problems were discussed and no actions or outcomes were reached.
The meeting has ran over the scheduled meeting time.
A follow up meeting was scheduled to discuss the findings of the current meeting.
People had to politely excuse themselves from this meeting because they had another meeting to get to.
These things happen so frequently that it just seems normal to us. Its NOT normal. This is cleary a broken model so its time to call it out and take action to fix it. Heres what you can start to implement at your workplace.
First answer these questions:
What is the desired outcome of the meeting? If you can't answer this, don't waste everyones time by calling a meeting.
Will the meeting be interactive with attendees or will it just be information sharing? If its just to share information, consider compiling an infographic or memo and share with appropriate people through email or team collaboration software.
Who will benefit from this meeting? Don't invite your whole office if you are only talking about things the sales staff needs to hear. Align your invite list with your desired meeting outcome.
Once you have determined that it is appropriate to call your meeting, and you know what the outcome should be and who should attend, consider these important points:
Always have an #agenda. Attendees should know what the meeting is about when they receive the meeting invite so that they can prepare or make a more informed decision on whether they need to attend or not. Ensure you keep your meetings as short as possible (15-30mins is best).
Prepare properly for your meeting. Ensure that everything is working prior to people showing up to the meeting. Schedule yourself 5 or 10 mins before the meeting starts to get settled and to ensure the meeting starts on time.
Always have someone take the minutes of the meeting. As actions are being assigned to people, they should recorded so that they can be shared with the attendees. You may also want this person to keep an eye on the agenda and ensure the meeting stays on track.
Always have a parking lot. This can be a notepad, whiteboard, flip chart, etc. If something comes up in the meeting that is important, but isn't going to get you to your meeting outcome, capture it for a later discussion.
Perhaps the most important thing is to be respectful of other people time. If you scheduled the meeting to be 30 mins, end it at the 30 min mark. If you didn't get through your full agenda, you didn't plan your meeting appropriately. Thats your problem. The rest of the people have other priorities to get back to
If you follow this advice I think that you will find that people will be more receptive to your meeting requests. When people know that you plan your meetings effectively and they achieve the needed outcomes, they will be more engaged to participate. Want to learn more? Check out Patrick Lencioni's book Death by Meeting. Its a great read.