Meetings get a lot of bad press. They are pictured as the main evil in any workplace just after email. When we talk about meeting the primary image is that it’s long, boring and low value event that everyone has to attend. Many try to ban them completely or reduce them significantly.
Meetings are not inherently good or bad. What has happened is too many people abused the idea and purpose of many, many meetings and converted them in to this hated monster that is now.
Meetings are here to stay, they are simple a fact of an office life. We may not like them but just like taking out the trash we have to do them.
But when you think of meetings they are actually ok. It’s an excellent form of exchanging ideas, making decisions, discussing the goals and direction of the company or providing an update about progress and issues with current work. Think of some good examples of meeting that you had in the past. Things were running smooth, people were active and engaged. At the end everyone left feeling that something good has been done and that meeting was productive.
So how can you repeat that and get the same positive effect every time you organise a meeting:
clear purpose of a meeting. There are there three generic type:
- idea generation
Stay on Course
keep the meeting to the point if the topic is project Y then this is the only thing to be discussed. See Parkinson’s Law a task expands to the amount of time given so it the meeting if your don’t stick to your agenda then you’re likely get side tracked.
Specific time allocation: 15min, 30min, 45min, 1h. Once you know the purpose and the topics it’s relatively easy to determine how much time is needed. Stick to it so the meeting doesn’t overrun.
Correct number and level of attendees. If the meeting is about making decisions then people who can make them should be there. If you need to update your team make sure they are all there so you don’t have to repeat the message to every single person.
These four elements that can help you make the meetings better. If you are mostly attending the meetings see if you can influence the organiser. When you see them putting together another boring and long meeting ask them about it. See if they know what they want to achieve with it. Perhaps over time they will change their approach especially if the get to experience a smooth and engaging meetings.