Six Things I’ve Learnt About Meetings
Meetings are important. That much is true. But they can be a catastrophic waste of time if they are for the wrongs reasons, if the wrong people are there, if no-one really understands what they are trying to achieve or there isn’t clear direction.
Here are six things I’ve learnt about meetings:
The best meetings (in my opinion) are well facilitated. Facilitation might seem a bit overkill at time but with meetings of a certain size, the facilitator is absolutely critical. Facilitators will set the pace, give context to the meeting and make sure that everyone stays on course. How many times have you been in a meeting about something and half an hour in your find the group talking about something completely unrelated. It’s a little like when you go on the internet to buy something you need, four hours later you’re laughing at kittens and you don’t know why or where the time has gone. That’s a sign things have gone a little askew in a meeting. Good facilitators stop this from happening and make sure the group sticks on course. Unless you want to laugh at kittens.
2. Understanding the objective is pretty key. The good meetings will have a clear objective. I think we’ve probably all been there. You rock up to a meeting having preconceived idea of what this meeting is about. You’ve got your notebook and pen at the ready. And then you go through the meeting slowly realising this isn’t what you thought this was at all. You sit awkwardly because you’ve realised that actually you didn’t need to be here and you’ve probably just wasted two hours of your day. I think the best meetings will set out early ‘this is why we are here and this is what we are trying to achieve today’. So you can make you’re escape if need be.
3. Similar to above, how many times do you get through a meeting and someone says “oh I wish ‘so and so’ could be here to give an opinion on this”. It’s very often that meetings will get rescheduled to have that person’s say and that will enviably mean more time wasted. Making sure the right people are there from the outset is key. If there aren’t the right people then the meeting shouldn’t go ahead. Otherwise you have a meeting, to then have a call about a meeting to then follow up with a further meeting — all a big fat waste of time.
4. Clarity is king. I remember when I’d just started work and I was in some sort of meeting, of course I knew absolutely nothing about anything. But it wasn’t only me that looked confused throughout the whole meeting. The best meetings are pacey but they do the groundwork first. They make it crystal clear what’s going on and the simple language is best. You say what needs to be said and nothing more. There is literally no point saying fifty five words when it could be said in . Plus, sentences like “we need get strategical alignment on the steer advantage of benefits, we might need to take this offline and carpark it for a further alignment of brains on a platform more suited but it’s just a thought” literally just confuses everyone. Everyone walks away thinking “wait, we have a carpark?”.
5. Sticking to the agenda. Agendas are wonderful things. They give structure and rigger to a meeting that would otherwise be a free-for-all. Stick to it.
6. Get to the resolution as quick as possible — no faffing, they are the best in my opinion. People have poor attention spans — TedTalks are capped at eighteen minutes because people switch off. Make it quick and painless, like pulling off a plaster.
Originally published at https://www.careerhealth.info on February 22, 2020.