Have you ever wondered what life would be like without meetings? Could you imagine an entire week where you looked at your calendar and you didn’t see a single hour block of meetings, discussions, or updates?
Meetings provide an opportunity to share information, gain consensus and discuss important topics; they enable leaders to get a team of people on the same page. I get that part. But meetings can also suck the energy out of anyone. I’ve read and reviewed the books, handbooks, and sessions on making meetings productive, and yet still, it’s a struggle to participate in meetings that are less than impactful. During an afternoon of meetings that sent me spinning into a meeting-induced coma (is there an ICD-10 code for that?), I decided to go on a twitter rant on #meetingfails.
Apparently it struck a nerve with a number of people; it turns out I’m not the only one with a low tolerance for wasted time. Below are some takeaways that can help avoid “death by meeting.”
- Do your team a favor next week, and don’t schedule any meeting longer than 30 minutes.
- If your day is full of meetings, you aren’t actually accomplishing anything; rather, you are generating work for others.
- If you have meeting before or after normal working hours, realize you are taking people away from their families.
- When creating an agenda, remember: less = more.
- Meetings don’t need to be an hour. Have an agenda, stay on track, say things ONCE, finish, and move on. Meetings aren’t work!
- In a meeting, don’t invite someone you don’t expect to take any action or responsibility.
- In a meeting, if you have a question, don’t answer it yourself. If you already knew the answer, why did you ask it?
- In a meeting, if you ask a question, make sure it directly relates to the overall meeting topic and is relevant to your business.
- In meetings, before you ask a question, ask yourself if there is really a good answer to it. If it’s unanswerable, then don’t ask.
- Meetings should be more about where we are headed than recapping where we’ve been.
We might not be able to eliminate meetings altogether (unfortunately), but at least there are steps that can be taken to make them just a little bit more manageable — and maybe even constructive.