The “Grumpy” Poet – Pointless Meetings: Stop Wasting My Time!

“If you’re just gonna talk, and we’re just gonna echo support, you may as well leave a recording of the speaker in the room and we’ll just nod!” – digibomb

Meetings are, unfortunately, necessary when running a business, some discussions just can’t be avoided, but if you’re going to schedule a meeting make sure it serves a purpose. Good meetings are few and far between but when they happen – it’s extremely satisfying!

Way too often colleagues, clients, vendors, etc., schedule meetings without a plan. They have an “idea” of what they want to discuss, but ideas are cheap, people want solutions! There’s no benefit to spending an hour, or more, in a boardroom with a bunch blank minds. Come with ideas, research, trackable items, some kind rough strategy or plan that you need help executing or validating.

Is a meeting really necessary?

Before you schedule a meeting think about whether or not the topic requires a handful of people in the room. Quite often most topics can be discussions over coffee, at someone’s desk, or even as an email thread. I really hate when I’m pulled into a meeting just to have the organizer open with “So, I have this idea…” I don’t care! Don’t waste my time in a boardroom for you to go over a napkin sketch you made at dinner last night. And don’t come to the table empty handed!

At Brendan & Brendan we’ve been making the transition over the past few months to a Holacratic business model. Within this model, less meetings are required and group conversation and meaningful discussions are emphasized. Internally, we meet once a day, every morning for less than 30 minutes to quickly go over what our daily tasks are and to seek support. Everything else is left to individual conversations through out the day or discussed via our online collaboration tool Redbooth. When we have an important client task/project the entire team will sprint – but we come prepared with an outline and actionable objectives.

Here’s how to not run a meeting

  • Plan! Don’t schedule a meeting without putting together a plan or agenda of what is to be discussed.
  • Do your research and come prepared! Don’t expect the attendees of your meeting to do the work for you. They are there for support, feedback, and/or execution.
  • Ask questions! Make sure everyone in the room has a clear understanding of objectives and next steps.
  • Meetings are disruptive! They can lead to low productivity, missed deadlines, and a kink in your groove. If you’re going to make people stop what they’re doing to attend your meeting make sure it serves a purpose.
  • Don’t go meeting crazy – stop clicking on the schedule button! I’ve had the unfortunate experience of working in corporate cultures that revolve around meetings. If my day is meeting after meeting I get nothing done!
  • Talk is cheap! Ideas are good, but meetings are intended to solve problems not just discuss them.
  • Take note! Make sure someone in the room is responsible for taking meeting minutes. Without a record of what was said, agreed upon, etc., mistakes and misunderstandings are bound to happen.
  • Always make sure a decision maker is in the room! If no one attending the meeting can make a final decision, the meeting is pointless – nothing is actionable!
  • Gone in sixty minutes! Final point, try to keep every meeting under an hour. Anything longer, people lose motivation and patience.

Holding effective meetings doesn’t have to be difficult. With a plan and actionable deliverables meetings can be a means to immediate consensus and keep everyone on the same page.

I’ll leave you with this:

“Every discussion in a meeting has a diminishing curve of interest. The longer the discussion goes on, the fewer people will be interested in it.”
Mark McCormack, US sports agent

One thought on “The “Grumpy” Poet – Pointless Meetings: Stop Wasting My Time!

  1. Pingback: Another meeting | What is dead may never die

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