My mother was a businesswoman who had very strong – opinions – on meetings. Two of her favourite sayings were “If you want to get nothing done, let’s have a meeting” and “If you’re missing the right people for a meeting, you’ll be having another one“.
It explains a lot about me and my view of meetings. I’ve added to this “people who think going to meetings is fun and exciting haven’t been to enough of them.” I don’t meet for the sake of meeting – the meeting isn’t something on the “accomplished” list – the meeting leads to what needs to be done.
Do not get me wrong – sometimes face to face is necessary. Some meetings are extremely important and absolutely necessary.
And sometimes a ten minute phone call can answer all the questions that an hour-long meeting takes.
Things I need include an agenda, preferably in advance and people to have done their homework prior to said meeting. And a time limit. My ideal agendas combine both – with items indicating how much time we’ll be spending on them. Still, that’s paper, not people.
We had an excellent rule for the 2010 Harold Award meetings – we’re meeting at X place, we’re meeting for an hour, and those in the room are deciding – if you can’t make it that’s fine but you can’t backtrack on decisions made while you weren’t there. Worked like a charm.
If a conversation in a meeting is only between two people for longer than three minutes – take it offline.
If a committee has served its purpose and now all members are tasked with things to do that don’t involve everyone – you’ve moved to email and phone. Disband. No more ten people meetings required.
And the devil has plenty of advocates – you don’t need to play one, either in a meeting or on TV. And certainly not EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.
With this in mind, we look around the table and see the following people – and how to deal with them. Infographic!