Running Better Meetings

Let’s talk a bit about meetings. I hate meetings! Well maybe I should be more specific – I hate meetings without a clear and defined purpose. By that I mean discussion meetings, status meetings and those meetings to just socialize, meetings where at the end of an hour I really have no idea why we just did this.  I’m talking about round robin status meetings where I listen to the same things I’ve heard before in three other the meetings over the course of the week.  Meetings without an agenda that could have been taking care of via a quick e-mail or a collaborative of workspace sharing environment, and those meetings that I really dread where it’s a non-ending stream of complaints and litany of issues without any resolution or hopes thereof.  I would like them all to die a fiery death.  In order to do my part to fix this horrible meeting situation I would like to propose that every meeting organizer answer the following three questions prior to sending the meeting invitation to me… or in fact anyone… ever!

Why Am I Here?

Tell me why you need me to be there. Am I my key to the process or do I have some institutional knowledge that I have to share? Am I there to support your agenda in some way? What exactly is my purpose for attending this meeting?  And if I have no purpose in this meeting why not send me a quick note to say that I can probably skip this one and I will be more than happy to find something else to do with the hour.

What Do I Need to Know?

Tell me what this meeting is about. What are we going to do? Brainstorm? Set dates? What are we going to talk about or review? How about some information about why we’re meeting or even better how about an overview of the vision for the meeting.  What is the desired outcome and where we need to be as a group.  Give me the road map – every meeting should come with an AGENDA. And also here is your opportunity to attach all kinds of glorious documentation and send it along from my reading pleasure.

What Decisions Do We Need To Make?

Give me the burning question up front. Have you ever been invited to a meeting thinking that you know where things are only to be confronted with one of those the world is ending decisions that has to be made by the end of the hour and everyone at the table pushes back saying (justifiably) that they need time to research the options and impact and you sit there wondering why didn’t the organizer let everybody know that this was going to happen.  If you as a meeting organizer need a decision made then you need to take the time to prepare everyone attending, make sure you inform everyone on what that decision is, who needs to make it and give people a week or two to ponder all of their scenarios and come up with their conclusions prior to sitting down and hashing things out as a group. Bonus points if you ask them to prepare alternatives to present to the group.

The thing that’s a good place to start, answer those three questions in you next invitation and I will be at your meeting prepared, energized and not fiddling with my phone wondering when it will end.




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