Admit it you hate going to meetings as much as I do. The minute I receive a calendar invite the thought of sitting laboriously through a long meeting makes me cringe. I cringe for two reasons. One, most meetings I attend are not clear about the agenda. They start off with one agenda and then other agenda’s get added sending the meeting into an infinite loop . Second ,most meetings are not time bound, the calendar invite may say that the meeting duration is 1 hour but most often than not they end up getting stretched beyond the designated timeslot .
To be honest I do not hate meetings. I hate badly organized meetings!
Next time you set up a meeting consider these
- Is it really needed? That is the first question you should be asking yourself. As a manager / team member, setting up the meeting figure out if the agenda of the meeting can be achieved using other mediums such as email / group chat /con call etc. If it cannot be achieved through these means only then set up an in person meeting.
- Decide and communicate the agenda – The points to be discussed in the meeting should be crystal clear before the meeting. A memo can be sent out to the invitees before the meeting detailing the same. Also, decide the number of people who will be attending the meeting . No point inviting 20 people to a meeting and then spending hours in reaching a consensus. Jeff Bezos (Amazon’s owner) does something similar .His ground rule for meetings in Amazon is – The 2 pizza rule, in meetings he invites the exact number of people who can share 2 pizzas!
- Ban devices- How many times have you attended meetings with half the invitees typing away on their laptop or cell phones while a fellow invitee speaks? I am sure your answer is “Many”! Usage of all devices should be banned during meetings. The organization will not stop if you answer your mails an hour later!
- Include introverts- Most of our introvert collogues are too shy to elbow their way through the extroverts who take up most of the time expressing their opinions in the meeting. If you notice, someone being too quiet prompt them for their opinions. A better approach might me to ask them to come prepared with a few points and then invite them to state their points first.
- Set a timer – Most meetings go on beyond the designated time slot because everyone has an opinion and it is difficult to reach a consensus. Before the start of the meeting, a timer should be set. The person driving the meeting should make sure that the meeting finishes on time! In addition, after the meeting ends send out an MOM clearly demarcating responsibilities and timelines so that everyone is on the same page.
Meetings can prove to be a useful way of reaching a decision or making plans to accomplish tasks only if they are planned and executed well. An unorganized meeting with no result is not only frustrating it is also time consuming. So next time you set up a meeting ensure it is organized, time bound and reaches a logical end!