3 Ways To Make Meetings Much Less Boring And Much More Useful
I hate bad meetings. It’s partly due to my fundamental impatience and partly to my experience of how productive and – yes – fun a good meeting can be. Fortunately for me, I’m seldom at the effect of crappy meetings: I’m generally either facilitating (in which case I better be able to keep it from being bad, or why are you paying me), or it’s a meeting of people in my own company (and if I can’t keep those from being bad, yikes.)
So the title of this article on the Inc. website appealed to me: Meetings Suck? Make Them Better. The author, Tom Searcy, offers great, simple advice: Keep them as short as possible; don’t overwhelm people with information and data; involve everybody; follow up. As is often the case when I read good articles, I thought to myself – “Right on! This is straightforward and practical. Everybody should do this.” And then my next thought: “If the solution is so simple, why are so many meetings still so bad?”
This really interests me. When the solution(s) to a seemingly intractable problem are so simple, I get curious about why the problem still exists. I believe meetings are bad for three main reasons, each which involves the mindset of the person in charge:
- We don’t understand the importance of the ‘who.’ In bad meetings, most of the people in the room are sitting there wondering what it has do do with them…and generally concluding that the answer is ‘not much.’ Poor meetings are generally either somebody talking and everyone else is pretending to listen, or a conversation that only involves a couple of people.
Try this: think about how costly group meetings are in terms of people-hours. Seriously: if you’re holding an hour-long meeting for the top 15 people in your company, that’s hugely expensive. Rather than thinking of it as a necessary evil, think of it as a major investment on which you need to get a good return. Two things that help: 1) only focus on those topics that are important and useful to all or most of the people in the meeting, and 2) have the ‘owner’ of a topic (the person responsible for making something happen) run the part of the meeting where that topic is being covered.
Continue reading this article at Forbes.com after the break!