For many of us, meetings are a drag: an unfortunate necessity of the working day.
It doesn’t have to be like this.
Meetings are about making decisions. This should happen quickly, cost effectively and with full involvement.
Unfortunately, most organisations get meetings completely wrong. A badly executed business meeting is not only a waste of time and money, it’s also bad for morale and detrimental to team involvement.
A Bad Meeting
We’ve all been in meetings that have no agenda, no clear objectives and regularly drift off topic. Do you remember that 4-hour meeting on “efficiency?”
In a poorly managed meeting people eat loudly, play on their mobile phones, text or take phone calls. Others constantly think out loud or distract and divert from the point of the meeting. Most simply pretend to listen.
A meeting like this is a serious threat to productivity.
It’s partly the fault of established business convention. Meetings around a conference table are an unnecessary and unproductive structure built to solve what could often be achieved in a quick chat.
It is irrelevant and out-of-date. It just doesn’t make sense in businesses today. When it is so easy to share information quickly and efficiently, meetings should only be scheduled when there is something worthwhile that needs to be discussed ‘in person’.
What NOT to Do
Never use a meeting to share information. With all the avenues at our disposal in this digital age, there is no excuse for it. Use the meeting for decision-making. Make sure everyone has the information they need before the meeting.
Avoid long, sterile, regimented business meetings around a conference table. As much – if not more – can be achieved in a 10-minute standing meeting on the company floor.
There is no need to schedule a half hour meeting for what could be achieved in ten minutes. If you have that amount of time, you will fill it, but what you fill it with won’t necessarily be of any use at all. Establish a time frame based solely on how long you will need for the topic that needs to be addressed. Take that meeting somewhere interesting, inspiring and engaging.
How to Get Them Right
The best way to know if you are getting your meetings completely wrong is to know how to get them completely right.
– Make sure everyone arrives on time and end the meeting at the time scheduled.
– Avoid derailing the meeting with tangents and off-topic discussions.
– If you identify a problem in the meeting, you are also there to come up with a solution.
– Find the best way to include the whole team in the meeting, and eliminate anything that might distract or take away from its objective. Mobile phones in the box please!
Establish clearly the objective of the meeting and stick to it. Discuss it, solve it, and end it.