When was the last time you attended a really great meeting? If you're like me, you had to think hard about that. Now shift gears and think of the last time you had to attend a lousy meeting. I bet that the inventory of those kinds of meetings is much bigger. Ouch!
Dittos here. Bad meetings are way more common than we'd like to admit.
A recent Wall Street Journal study of executives revealed that most of their days were tied up in meetings. 18 hours a week, on average, were spent in meetings. That's a lot of time and the video below shows a discussion of the rest of the study.
The issue of meetings isn't limited to CEO's. The other night my town had a meeting to discuss trees. They were going to be describing how to dig a hole, insert a new tree and then keep it alive. I skipped out on the meeting because I figured that I could just as easily look it up online and figure it out on my own. One quick search in Google for "planting new trees" and my bet is that the rest will follow.
There are probably three options for meetings that apply to regular folks like you and me:
1. You could skip meetings altogether. Seth Godin says that he does this and that's one way to free up time.
2. You could tolerate bad meetings just as you do now. Not my favorite solution so keep reading.
3. You could transform meetings into productive experiences. Now we're talking!
For option #3, you need some level of control on your schedule. If you're an attendee, there's only so much you can do to make a meeting more tolerable. For example, if the meeting moderator is disorganized and in a habit of starting late, you could be in trouble.
If you do have the opportunity to run the meeting, this is where the magic happens. You can control almost every aspect of the meeting and the end result will be a happier audience. Good meetings typically involve the following elements:
1. A published agenda.
2. A respect for time (starting and ending time).
3. A pace that keeps things moving.
4. A tone that makes everyone feel respected.
5. An ability to listen to everyone present.
6. A bias towards actionable results.
If you've experienced any of the above six elements of a meeting, chances are it was time well spent. I've created a new eBook titled "How to Run Effective Meetings: the Six Practices that will Turn Any Meeting Into a Success" and it's available for a limited time for only $1.99.
You can pick up a copy here. In How to Run Effective Meetings, I outline the prerequisites for productive meetings and then I share the six practices that I use every week to make meetings not only tolerable but on some occasions, terrific.
Your next meeting doesn't have to stink. It might even be delightful if you practice long enough.
Question: What made a recent meeting productive for you?
Photo courtesy of MA