How to Avoid Meeting Hell
Jun 24, 2019
Why do we have meetings anyway?
Some companies have meetings just to have meetings. And others never meet. What is the right way to go?
Well, if you don’t have any meetings, you aren’t able to take advantage of the knowledge and talent your team members have. You also probably have a lot of wasted time and effort due to lack of coordination of products.
If you have meetings just to have meetings, then you probably have some very frustrated employees. You may feel like nothing ever REALLY gets decided, or that nothing ever REALLY gets done (or both). It probably feels like things get talked to death without a decision.
Neither of those options sound very good do they?
Well then, what is the right number of meetings, and how do you make sure that they are productive, useful, and not frustrating?
The right number of meetings is how ever many it takes to:
- effectively coordinate the work that needs to be done,
- communicate overall business information, strategy, and culture,
- and, make sure people feel connected and appreciated.
Can all of these be accomplished in one meeting? Yes, if the meeting is done right.
You can also schedule separate meetings just with the key people involved to coordinate and move forward work projects.
I am always surprised at how badly most meetings are run. It is frustrating and discouraging.
So…let’s talk about how to do it right.
- Have a purpose for the meeting—even if it is simply to update everyone, at least you have a purpose. That allows the attendees to know what is needed from them.
- Start generally on time and have and end time. Don’t let a meeting run on FOREVER. Divide the time you have appropriately between all the agenda items, and then WATCH THE CLOCK! I hate it when you never get to the last few things on the agenda because so much time was taken listening to someone go on and on about one of the first agenda items.
- Always model and expect excellent manners. No interrupting, no name calling or eye rolling. We are adults here people!!
- If assignments are made regarding a certain topic, first, make sure the person knows they have actually been assigned something. Make sure they understand what is expected of them. And then, set a realistic deadline for getting it done. (Between meetings you can check in and make sure that task is getting done in time.)
- Manage your time. Make sure people don’t run on and on about a topic. Read a book or take a class on facilitation skills so you understand how to bring people back on topic and keep the meeting moving.
- Let people know when a decision needs to be made, and the conditions that you are trying to meet through that decision. Then make the darned decision!! Don’t table it for another meeting—just decide. Or schedule a special meeting (very soon) where that will be the only topic discussed so you completely focus on it.
- At the end of the meeting, express appreciation for your team members and their participation in the meeting and all the great work they do.
- Also at the end of the meeting, VERY briefly summarize all the topics, the decisions made, and review assignments and deadlines.
- You get bonus points for then summarizing the meeting in an email and sending it out soon afterwards.
Your people will appreciate an effective meeting and feel better about their job because of it.
You can do this!! If you are struggling, let’s talk.