Make Them Matter
I'm pretty sure business meetings were created (by cavemen?) to get stuff done. Develop plans. Make decisions. Assign responsibility. Celebrate victories.
Who knows when, but at some point, business meetings became almost as much about not getting stuff done.
Does this sound familiar?
Too many people. Not the right people. People checking their phones. Others showing up late. The wrong agenda. No agenda. Random discussion. No discussion. All talk. Little action. Lack of accountable people or timeframes. About 45 minutes too long...?
In today's expert opinion, I share insights that could change the way you think about meetings at work. On "The Story Of Telling" website, brand strategist Bernadette Jiwa recently recommended five questions you should ask yourself before scheduling or attending a meeting. Today, I help you answer those questions.
Whether you're someone who schedules meetings, or is invited by others to attend them, these tips will make your meetings more effective.
With any luck, you may have a lot more meetings that actually matter.
1. Why are we having this meeting?
Meetings are only effective when there's a clear purpose. Here are common examples: brainstorm ideas, share time-sensitive information, request input, make a decision, secure buy-in, or earn approval.
If you're scheduling a meeting, be clear on your purpose and invite only the people needed to influence that specific outcome. If you're invited to a meeting and you're not clear on the purpose, ask. Tell the meeting organizer that you'd like to be prepared for the meeting and ask them to clarity the purpose if needed. At a minimum, you may highlight the need for clarification in the mind of the organizer.
2. Do I really want to speak to, connect with, or change this person?
This is where your intention comes into play. If you don't really want to meet with someone, don't do it unless you have to. Find another way to get the work done. If you have to meet, go into it with extra clarity and focus so you can get in and get out. Meetings matter when you're interested in connecting with other people to get something accomplished. If you're not genuinely interested, don't waste your time or others.
3. Am I treating my colleague like I would want them to treat me?
This is just the golden rule as applied to meetings. If you're taking the time to meet with others (whether it's your meeting or theirs) be respectful of the time, the purpose, the agenda, and the other participants. It's easy to get caught up in resenting time you have to spend in meetings when you have work to do. Catch yourself and give people the opportunity to make your time matter, whether you're the meeting organizer or attendee.
4. What value am I adding by being in the room?
Being present and productive in meetings matters. Your behavior in meetings sends a strong message to others. A meeting can't be productive if the people in the room (including you) behave as if it doesn't matter. Bernadette points out that "bringing your whole self into the room (even if it’s virtual) ignites things." I couldn't agree more. Don't multi-task, don't half-ass, and don't hold back. Show up and bring what you've got. If you can't do that, don't attend the meeting. All you'll do is disrespect others and potentially derail the meeting.
5. Could we do this by email?
I'll go out on a limb and say that 50% of meetings in business could be handled via email - and by a lot fewer people than might be included in a meeting. Challenge yourself before you schedule a meeting. Can this get done via email to make everyone involved more productive? If you're invited to a meeting that might be better handled via email, ask the question (respectfully). You may just save yourself and others a few hours of unnecessary meetings.
Bernadette says it so well:
"Yes, meetings have a practical purpose. Of course we need to get projects managed and to-dos checked off, but not at the price of losing our humanity. If you scheduled it, make it matter."Set an example in your organization and help others do better too. The impact of meetings that matter can be the difference between success and failure of companies, projects, and people. Choose success.
If you know someone who schedules or attends meetings at work, do them (and me) a favor by sharing this article using the buttons below. Who doesn't want to have meetings that matter?
Bernadette Jiwa is an incredibly talented business advisor. To learn more, please visit her website at http://thestoryoftelling.com.