Death by meetings, or not!

meetings_graphic317How many times have you gone to a meeting only to find it unfocused and unproductive? You look around the table and most people are absorbed in their laptop or phone. Or they just have a vacant unengaged look on their face. This is death by meetings. Likely the highest wasted labour cost for smart workers today. Yet somehow we get sucked into the deadly meeting syndrome.

Meetings 101

Save yourself from meeting death! Ask for an agenda from the meeting organizer. If that’s you, don’t ever issue a meeting invite without an agenda. Your meeting outcomes will improve as long as you keep the attendees focused on the agenda. Ask yourself “why am I here”, what is my role or contribution? If you or the meeting organizer can’t come up with a good reason then take a pass on the meeting. Request that the meeting organizer stick to the planned agenda and timeframe.

Meeting strategies

Careers can be made or lost in a meeting. Good meeting contributions are often lost due to lack of time to think through the agenda and your personal contribution. Take 5 minutes before every meeting to review the agenda and think about your contribution. What is the most important issue? What is the single most important thing you can say?  What is the best thing for you not to say? How can you demonstrate thought leadership? How can you best contribute to the meetings success? If you can think these items through ahead of time then you will have a marked advantage over the rest of the meeting attendees.

The alternatives

We all have rich collaborative tools available today. Do you know what they are?  If not, then find out. Do you know how to use them? If not, find a training tool and dig in. Get your team together and discuss the value of meetings and brainstorm alternatives. If you save yourself and your team from one or two meetings it will be worth it. Create meeting rules for your group. Get a meeting hog Lonnie jar. Make it fun to put a spot light on meeting misbehaviour so you can change it without putting someone down. Do whatever it takes to save yourself and others from meeting death.

Sadly, it happens

There are a few well known technology companies that run on meetings like a drug addict dependent on the next fix. Employees will confess that they spend most of their time in meetings and not really delivering much of value. Some stay and let atrophy set in. Others bail on a good income but zero job satisfaction to find something less soul killing. Often it only takes a few people to change the meeting addiction culture into one of truly worthwhile staff gatherings.

The last word

Meetings have a role to play and are often critical to success. But they need to be well planned, kept to an agenda, held to a start / stop time, and be focused on deliverables not chit chat.  Beware the standing meeting – be willing to review the purpose and process of the meeting to ensure that it is fresh, relevant, and focused on what is worthwhile.

Are you a meeting junky or a meeting expert?

David Reimer

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