Yet another stupid meeting?

Many of you will be reading this during your holiday time. And at some point during this period of relaxation, your mind will drift over to that meeting, which you don’t want to have or regretted attending. Yet another meeting, which goes down as a waste of your time.

And you have to ask the question; with all our experiences in life, how is that we all spend so much time preparing or taking part or following up on hours of discussion round a table, where nothing has happened…with the exception of the release of hot air into the atmosphere.

For the sake of everybody’s sanity, and cleaner air, what can be done? What resolution can we all take in order to make our lives in meetings much happier?

Amazingly, some of the solutions are very simple. Both chairperson and participants could take 5 minutes to prepare themselves; no – not just going over what the agenda should be etc, but by considering in advance how people are going to react to prepared statements. It’s a caseof patiently employing some 101 phsychology.

Then consider your own persona – different meetings have different purposes; decision-making, brain storming, planning, finalising, etc. Most of us have different characteristics, suitable or otherwise for each stage. Be prepared.

And if you are the chairperson, I would point you to some useful tips from Josh Spiro:

  • Define the purpose of the forum
  • Ensure that everyone is on the same page in advance
  • Clarify that the key people will attend
  • Ensure that the meeting runs to a set time schedule

Spiro also refers to the need of strong interpersonal communications. How true!

I was told of a recent get-together of some senior businessmen, whose combined experience comprised hundreds of years of leadership. Half way through, the chairman unexpectedly turned his anger on one of the fellow members of the steering committee. I understand that a few minutes later, people began to leave the room. No conclusions or follow-up moves were reached. The only mutual feeling was confusion rather than direction. 

And so another silly meeting was recorded in the annals of world history. When you combine the time of all the those in the room, hours of work was lost. And that is amazing when you consider how an extra 5 minutes of lucid preparation would have produced a different and more positive result for all.

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