(Cue the groans and eye rolls.)
Nobody loves them.
Let’s face it, most people would rather be anywhere else than in a business meeting.
Are meetings doomed to be inherently horrible? Or have we just settled for mediocrity because we know no better way?
This subject of “meeting madness” came with two groups I worked with last week, so I took that as a sign to revisit some of the ways to end the insanity and make meetings better.
1. If there’s no agenda, don’t meet.
The agenda-less meeting is still the status quo in many organizations.
Here’s an example: you get an invite on your calendar.
(Because your calendar showed as free, your company norm is you must attend.)
The time is blocked off, and right up until the time of the meeting, you receive no information as to the purpose or agenda of the meeting.
How useful is this meeting going to be? You haven’t given the topic any thought, because you don’t even know what the topic is. How prepared are you (or anyone else) going to be?
Is this the “weekly Wednesday morning operations meeting”, that meets only because it happens to be Wednesday morning?
It’s not as though you (or anyone else) is searching for ways to fill their free time.
You know what it’s like to attend someone else’s poorly planned meeting: it sucks.
On the flip side, how often have you invited others to an agenda-less meeting? (Guilty as charged, your honor.)
Cancel it. Or don’t go. Make an upfront agenda for every meeting a requirement in your company.
2. Stop sending in token attendees to passively “represent” you.
I was working with group of R& D managers last week. They were telling me how every month, they take turns attending a marketing department meeting.
I asked them what benefit they get from attending the meeting. Their response?
Benefit? We hate going. But we have to. It’s our way to show up and represent R & D.
The R & D team was concerned with corporate optics more than anything else.
Showing up as a token symbol and doing nothing adds no value to you or anyone else. If you’re going to attend a meeting, find a way to engage. (It helps to know the agenda-see #1.) Otherwise, rethink your reason for going.
3. Set your default meeting times for 45 minutes, instead of an hour.
This one’s a simple fix.
Let’s face it: booking meetings back to back hour to hour works very well.
Last time I checked, humans have certain biological needs that must be attended to.
Beyond the obvious ones that involve a bathroom, even time to take a few breaths to renew before plowing into the next meeting can be extremely beneficial.
Like a corollary to Murphy’s law, meetings will expand to the time allotted.
So set your time with care and consideration.
You might even find yourself with time outside of meetings to get things done.
What strategies have you used to stop meeting madness? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.