Do you feel like you spend half of your time in meetings? Do you feel like a majority of them get in the way of the ‘real’ work? If you feel like this, chances are most of these meetings are not fulfilling their purpose because they are boring, too-long and not directed.
“A meeting moves at the speed of the slowest mind in the room. (In other words, all but one participant will be bored, all but one mind underused.)” ~ Dale Dauten
Like many of you out there, my time is eaten up by the torture of meetings. I’ve even had days where I had to schedule my own relief break otherwise my bladder would have gone on strike and made a mess of my office. I can certainly make myself mobile, but if you’ve ever been on a teleconference where you heard the toilet flushing you try to avoid being that person at all cost. Plus taking cell phones into the bathroom should be illegal.
Lastly, we tend to multi-task because this is the only way we can truly get our job done; although now there are arguments that multi-tasking is inefficient and not logical. This begs the question – do you need to be at all these meetings? Is a meeting really necessary?
Here are some questions for you to apply when joining and/or facilitating a meeting:
- Is the meeting discussion driven or information giving? It can be both, but if it’s only information giving send an email to update the intended attendees instead of holding the meeting. Or if the meeting isn’t mandatory, wait for the meeting minutes and skip it.
- Is the meeting a forum for a large or small group? This is important, because once it becomes a large group the interaction is gone and usually ends up misdirected by individual needs – might as well send an email or memo update instead or have focused smaller meetings they are more productive that way. If you need to cascade messages downward and onward, get these messages consolidated with clear directives use your middle management.
- Do you have an agenda for the meeting? If not build one or don’t have the meeting. A meeting without a goal is not a successful meeting. If you can’t put together what the objective is of the meeting, there is no reason to have it. Remember ‘to inform’ can be done in another forum of communication that doesn’t spend valuable time of you and your employees. The meeting needs to convey an action – decide, plan or choose there is not good rationale otherwise.
“A meeting is an event where minutes are taken and hours wasted.” ~ James T. Kirk
The test of a good meeting is when the original objective of the meeting has been met; where there is a sense of closure and accomplishment. Stop the torture of useless meetings it’s a murder that is justified; it’s a waste of valuable time and the real work that needs to be done. A pet peeve is to have a meeting for meetings sake that drives nothing but those facilitating the meeting to their egos. Enough I say. I hope the questions above help you in downsizing your meetings so that your days – weeks are more manageable and more productive.
Do you have some additional tips/tricks that save you from meeting torture? If so I’d love to hear them, please share in the Comments below.
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