Meetings… Meetings… Meetings. It seems like they take up quite a bit of your day doesn’t it? How do you feel about these meetings? Are they productive or a waste of time? If they are a waste of time, there are techniques you can use to change this.
Define The Purpose
While this sounds intuitive, many meetings don’t drill down far enough when it comes to defining purpose. For example, a very common meeting is the Status Meeting. Is that the purpose of the meeting? No. The purpose could be one or more of several things:
- Disseminate Information
- Coordinate Activities
- Resolve Issues
- Build Cohesiveness
- Seek Direction
These are all different activities. If you want your meetings to be more effective you should refine the purpose and invite a smaller audience. This accomplishes several things.
- It ensures that people at the meeting are actively involved
- It helps to focus your discussions
- If you only invite people who are really needed at the meeting, your attendance rate will go up
If the purpose of your meeting it just to disseminate information, you may want to think about canceling the meeting. There are a lot of ways to disseminate information. The general argument against canceling a meeting is that people won’t know what you’re doing. If this is the argument you would use, you may have a bigger problem. First of all, why do people need to know what you’re doing? If they are impacted by your actions, they obviously have a need to know, and perhaps you should schedule a meeting. But, if it’s “just because,” then perhaps it would be wise to cancel the meeting. As an example, I was once on a very large project where the executives decided to schedule a weekly lunch meeting for status. So far… so good. Here was the first problem. They invited 70+ people from around the country to participate by conference call. The call/meeting was mandatory. They took roll over the phone. The second problem was that only three or four people actually talked during the hour, often about things unrelated to the project or the people on the phone. It was a colossal waste of time. The published reason for the meeting… to disseminate information. The real reason, to satisfy the egos of the executives and to calm their fears about people needing to know what everyone else was doing.
So, define your purpose. Don’t be afraid to cancel meetings if they don’t have purpose. Invite a smaller audience.
All the best!
All the time!
I HIGHLY recommend this book. It is a quick and easy read with tons of good information in it.