Whose Meeting is this Anyway?

From the Muffled Voice in the Corner (By the Door)

If I had a penny for every time I had the privilege to sit in a meeting where people spent so much time talking rather than listening, I would be rich – like Oprah rich. I have grown to loathe meetings. I cannot figure out why it takes longer than an hour to talk about anything. Perhaps I would feel differently if meetings were meaningful or ended with clear purpose and direction.

Honestly folks, when Sandy made her statement, it was clear and concise. There was really no need to piggy back on what she said. I promise, just echoing her point, does not do anything but prolong the meeting – and make me roll my eyes.

So, Really…What’s the Point?

From a leader’s perspective, what is the point of your meeting(s)? Is it for the sake of accountability, to receive information that drives you to making a decision, or is it simply informative? I challenge you to review your weekly, bi-weekly and monthly calendar and discontinue at least one of the scheduled meetings.

Ask yourself what is the desired end state of each meeting and I submit you will find at least one meeting that is redundant. You may also find another meeting that used to be necessary, but the dynamics of your organization have changed and that meeting is no longer a requirement.

Science Says

Research from studies indicate meetings can often be unproductive, time consuming and create more questions than answers. This may be the result of not being C.L.E.A.R. Here are some things to consider:

  • Clarify outcomes. Ensure your stated outcomes are accurate, understood and that everyone abides by the intent. Do not be afraid to say, “That’s a good point, but I’d like to discuss that during a different meeting.”
  • Limit the time. First, scrutinize meetings that are scheduled for an hour. Secondly, hold everyone to the time (when it starts and when it ends).
  • Eliminate the rambling. We all know someone that knows they are long winded, yet we allow them to take up too much time. Establishing an “elevator pitch” style meeting, using a timer or using paper clips could help them get to the point. Encouraging them to be direct will also improve briefing skills.
  • Abstain from presentations. This obviously depends on the kind of meeting, but if you can, go native and encourage good old-fashioned round table discussions with eye contact.
  • Restrict attendees. Everyone in the meeting should have something substantial to contribute.

Scrutinizing meetings will save time and resources throughout the year. It will also facilitate more productivity. Trust me, the people in attendance will thank you!

LaMesha Craft is part of the GovLoop Featured Contributor program, where we feature articles by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Contributor posts, click here.

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