Death by meeting (and how you and the meeting can be resuscitated)
Meetings. Sometimes I think I am better off moving into the conference room, because I spend more time in it than my office. How often do you feel that way, or have you been in more meetings than the work week has hours? Do they suck the energy straight out of you?
Any meeting lasting more than one hour is more like indoctrination to another faith. Seriously, many meetings just keep on running on and on with little to nothing show for at the end of it in terms of getting tangible results. Having some meetings is actually worse than not having it. When folks get an even fuzzier picture at the end of the meeting than what they went in with, you will have some very unhappy campers to deal with sooner or later. The more time that goes by the greater the chances it will roll totally out of control.
Have you ever painted anything like a room or piece of furniture? If so, you will appreciate when I say that +75% of the total work going into “painting” is the prep work leading up to it. The actual painting job takes a fraction of time. This is no different with meeting prep work. Properly executed this can save you many a nerves and of course time, money and frustration. Please also see the meeting planner free for you to use in the download area.
- Sit on a mental rock and ponder why you need to have a meeting in the first place. If you can avoid it, do not have it. Have personal conversations instead and make good use of your capability walking the four corners of your business.
- Clarify what kind of a communication you want to have. Is it a communication for interpretation? Communication for clarity? Communication for action? Communication for exploration?
- Identify the goal of the meeting. What is the desired outcome?
- Define location, attendees, time scheduled to start and stop. Make sure to book your rooms well in advance and all the props that you need.
- Who should attend? Err on the minimalistic side. More than five people at a time make for really slow meetings. Pay attention who of your people are visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. Make sure everyone is being considered.
- When you start the meeting make sure to start on time and end on time (except hiring interviews). Neat trick starting on time is to make the last person in the scribe. You will have some hilarious antics going on when you do this, but it has proven extremely effective.
- Define the roles of facilitator, scribe, and time keeper. Time keeper, no time to tread lightly on this; make certain that the time limits are kept.
- Plan out the topics that will be discussed. Upon starting the meetings give every team member a chance adding topics, or of course eliminating any.
- Sometimes it may be necessary having side bar meetings leading up the meeting that you are planning. When the topic is too vague, scope creep set in, or there are too many people in the main meeting, prevent major headaches this way.
- Scribe: Keep copius notes. For the technical savy folks amongst you, use a version of the Meeting Planner on the Download page in your MS One Note folder and share it with the team members.
- At the end of the meeting go over the captured action items. Make absolutely, positively certain to doing this. Identify the responsible person to deliver results and by when.
- End on time. If you have a pattern of going over all the time, have a few meetings standing up. Trust me it helps keeping a fast pace and not to start rambling through the meeting agenda. If you must go over one hour time then plan on a 90 max meeting time before walking around, and get a bit of fresh air.
Nothing is worse than having a meeting for the sake of having a meeting. If need be, speak with you supervisor and take a break at no more than 90 minutes max meeting time. If for nothing else let this quick guide help you avoid another death by meeting event.