Have you ever been in a meeting and thought is was going to end, only to find that it keeps going and going and going? It's as if you are a runway attendant with the orange cones. You're trying to get the plane to land but its pilot can't seem to get the coordinates right. Painful indeed.
I've written about meetings several times on TDS but lately I've had a renewed interest as several meetings have gone on and on. I've become so frustrated in fact that once I turned on my stopwatch when I thought the meeting should end. As the participants talked on and on and then we did conclude, my watch indicated that an extra 20 minutes had just been gobbled up with fluff talk and chit chat. How I would love to reclaim those lost 20 minutes!
What to do in these kind of situations? If you're able to identify the "problem" and it's recurring, I offer the following:
- Offer to facilitate the meeting yourself. This is risky in that it puts you on the line for the next time around. It also, depending on the current meeting planner, might send a message that he/she isn't the ideal facilitator. Walk gently with this one and know the facilitator well. You certainly don't want to come across as a know-it-all. I did this recently and it worked, the person thanked me for taking one more thing off of her plate.
On the other hand, if it's a one-time meeting or a group that you can't facilitate yourself, you can:
- Politely say, "Are we done?" Bluntness works with certain groups and but not with all. Know your group and judge whether they can handle this. The bottom line is simple: life is busy and there are other things to do- why spend more time in a meeting than you have to?
And finally, if that's not a viable option, you can:
- Begin to pack up your things and say, "This was good. I have another appointment to attend. Thank you." While I would rather not pack up my things, this visual sends a message to your group- you are a busy executive with things to do so let's get on with it.
Be attentive to the meetings that you're in today. How well are they being run? Could then end earlier and on a more positive note? Sometimes ending is as important as how you begin.