Don’t Waste My Time!

Here are methods we’ve born, borrowed and stolen to make those few meetings we must have worth everyone’s time.

  • Meetings have a simple 3 point agenda or purpose of what must be covered in 18 – 20 minutes, using pre-meeting workups, follow ups, 1-on-1’s and the like eliminate the need to regurgitate what was or wasn’t done since the last meeting. Make sure we need to HAVE a meeting.
  • Establishing safety, trust and active listening to ensure we all understand where the framework is and what the context is before understanding the content. My silence might mean you’re not worth the argument. Silence does not mean agreement.
  • The Calendar Queen leaves a buffer between every meeting avoiding snowballing. About every meeting/calendar platform offers a flexible time buffer to help.
  • If you want full autonomy then you get full accountability – period. Don’t like it, then don’t work here! No PowerPoint presentations (kill me now). If your company would revolt at that thought, then edit down to 7-8 slides. If you can’t tell your story in that time frame, then redo your story to be more concise and compelling.
  • Meetings begin and end in a jacked-up time like 8:39 to 8:57 where odd is normal. If you’re late, then you have a choice – sing your alma mater or donate $5 to one of the company’s charities. Have a facilitator and a note taker to ensure the meeting was worth a shit.
  • Those that come unprepared are lucky enough to have a 1-on-1 with the CEO about respecting peers and colleagues (one of the company cardinal sins). Be exclusive; only those that MUST be there are invited – no office politics BS.
  • When meetings run longer than 22-24 minutes the facilitator pays into the employee benefit fund or donates to one of the company’s charities. After 25 minutes, everyone stands until conclusion. No meeting lasts longer than 30 minutes.
  • Get out of the conference room, Board Room, etc. A client of ours has a patio that overlooks a 5 acre pond, and many “updates” occur there. Go walk about the campus, grab lunch or breakfast AWAY from the office, just get up and walk’n talk. Conference calls suck, too. A study revealed 65% of employees regularly do other work while a conference call is happening. A full 47% have even gone to the rest room during a call.
  • Use of games makes meetings fun, it does create some competition and free thinking as well as teamwork, e.g., basketball, darts (as long as they’re not thrown at each other) and cornhole…for the marketing and IT peeps. Brain storming sessions include coloring books, paper, pencils, crayons to stimulate active listening, stretching the comfort zone…again, for more right-brainer’s.
  • No Tech! Phones and tablets aren’t allowed in any meeting. Before that step, any phone that rang you donated to one of the company’s charities. Those that brought laptops couldn’t remember half the crap that was said to even write down. Circulate the notes and actions for follow up, i.e., one-page debrief, one note, google drive, etc.

Meetings are a necessary evil to share information, gain consensus and update status on a myriad of topics. There’s 8-12 hours of work for many, and for many, people can only maintain a heightened awareness of concentration for 45 minutes during a 4 hour period. State a purpose of a meeting, get to the point, and edit down to its simplest few who must attend and influence the result, have a facilitator, a scribe, get up and get out and be done with it.

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