I’ve been in meetings which have drove me crazy – close to suicide. I’ve been in meetings where most of the people present do not understand anything about the topics or talks that are being held, but still it does not prevent them to be talking or spending time in the meeting.
I was once in a meeting where the chairman talked and talked and talked and at some point I noticed that I didn’t understand anything that he was saying. I tried to shake myself and listen more intently, but I still could not understand. The guy was just talking because he liked talking and because he was there to talk.
“No, I don’t understand anything… but don‘t worry I don’t care anymore. Maybe I’m dead.”
Did I have some kind of stroke? Perhaps my brain froze while listening as I couldn’t understand anything anymore. I needed to check with my colleague. I leaned towards him and asked: “Do you understand anything that guy is saying? He looked at me and answered: “No, I don’t understand anything… but don‘t worry I don’t care anymore. Maybe I’m dead.”
We all have similar stories and experiences, but why is it that way? Why are meetings the worst thing next to the inquisition?
Most meetings fail because…
1. Meetings don’t have a goal.
You might have heard several times that a meeting must have an agenda. An agenda is important, but every meeting should have a purpose, a goal and the decisions. There are many meetings which are meant for ‘information sharing’, but the truth is that if you have a meeting for sharing information, you’ve already failed. This is 2015! We’ve all the tools to share information .. and if not the tools, you’ve legs, and your mouth.
Decide before the meeting what it is which should be decided on and who can make the decision at the end of meeting if no common agreement has been reached. If you are not searching for agreement or input from your colleagues, why have you arranged a meeting? Make the decision yourself and inform others.
2. People who don’t have anything to add, use the most voice.
You know the guys who always ask questions every time and take time from people, who don’t have anything to ask. Most of them are whiners and complainers and some just like that their voice is heard.
There might be some who are just after the promotion or want to get the attention of the superiors. Well, that¹s great but it does not help you or others in the meeting and it does not help the goal you’re trying to reach. If you know these people, let them be heard at the end of the meeting and allow others to leave if they are not interested.
3. You’ve all the wrong people in your meetings.
I recently participated meeting where two people argued about details. The details were not interesting for others participating the meeting. The others just sat quietly and stared at their laptops or mobile phones and waited until the argument ended. The worst thing in that meeting was that the things they argued about were nowhere near finished.They were just plans and sketches.
4. You don’t have a time limit.
If you don’t have a time limit, there is plenty of time to be wasted. Aim for extremely short meetings.
5. People don’t think in meetings.
When you put people to small room next to each other that increases the stress level and it makes people vulnerable for group thinking. Believe it or not, most people do not like to talk in front of others and their brains stall. That¹s why you should use your legs, use your phone, IM and any other tool to replace the meeting.
6. People are not prepared. People are late. People are not present.
You know all these.
7. Calendar booked meetings allow people to make pre-judgments.
When they arrive to meetings, they are already stuck. Good ideas do not appear in meetings, they are done before and after the meetings. Don¹t except anything new or good to appear in a meeting… again group thinking is a problem.
So – meetings suck! How you can handle them.
1. Meet people face-to-face individually or contact them directly.
You can talk to people directly and hear their opinions and inputs in one-on-one discussions. Once you’ve heard all sides, you can make the decision and inform – or better yet, come to a conclusion based on discussions – and then decide.
2. Arrange short meetings with CLEAR goals.
What is it you want from the meeting? What is the decision you want? There is no point of going to a small room unless you know WHY!
3. Make sure you have only vital people in your meetings and make sure they arrive!
Be nasty if required. I emphasise: Only VITAL people – not all that could possibly have contribution.
4. Try having stand up meetings where people have a limited amount of time to talk.
In a recent study sponsored by Clarizen and Made by Harris Poll, 17 percent of people would rather watch paint dry than be in meetings. Paint dries in two hours. Make sure your meetings are interesting, useful and faster than drying paint.
8 percent of people would rather get root canal than go to meetings.
Think about that!?
When you are in a meeting, someone is suffering as much as he or she would be at dentist!
It’s time to do something about it!