WARNING – THIS POST CONTAINS PASSIVE AGRESSION, JEST, AND ALL THE SWEARS.
Let’s have a meeting.
Hearing that statement from someone often fills me with dread and maybe even brings up a little sick in my mouth. The ‘meeting about the meeting’. The ‘pre-meeting prep meeting’, or the ‘review meeting `to confirm the next meeting’. No matter how you cut it, meetings suck balls in almost all circumstances. Add in virtual meetings, whereby you are also playing technical concierge often to a bunch of geriatrics who have never used Skype in their life, let alone collab. Tools such as Zoom, or GoToMeeting and you have a recipe for disaster.
‘Can you hear me now Dave’? ‘I can hear you, but I don’t think you can here me’…oh Dave for fucks sake, you haven’t plugged your headset in.
Just fucking stop a minute.
I’m sorry if anyone’s offended, if you know me, you’ll know my way of speaking and I’m mostly speaking in jest, but there’s some things you need to hear loud and clear here though. So turn that hearing aid up! …..90% of the time, there is no reason for your meeting to exist. And if it needs to exist, there’s a high probability you haven’t fucking prepared for it anyway. Got yourself an agenda? Nope. Got yourself an intended outcome? Course you fucking haven’t. The chance is you’re using the meeting as a reason to palm off tasks to people, and/or to feel important. That’s not criticism, that’s just fact and I see it in so many businesses it astounds me.
Meetings are killing businesses, teams and output. Fact.
Meetings wander off topic massively, especially when you have rogue attendee’s or bad meeting leaders. Meetings also often have unesscary people, and let’s remember, a meeting for one hour with ten people doesn’t potentially waste one hour, it wastes ten hours! TEN FUCKING HOURS!
The time cost of meetings
According to a recent talk by TED speakers David Grady and Jason Fried, there are more than 3 billion meetings every year, with executives spending 40 to 50 percent of their total working hours in meetings. With almost 34 percent of all meetings ending up as wasted time, that means executives who spend 23 hours of work per week in meetings are flat-out wasting almost eight of those hours — nearly a full day of work every week. That loss in productivity is estimated to waste nearly $37 billion every year in the U.S. alone.
And let us not forgot those who passively weild their power by scheduling meetings over lunch or early morning or late in the day…..we love those fucking guys!
I see companies trying to change meeting culture, especially in the UK. Keep meetings to ten minutes. Or ‘no Meeting Tuesdays’ which is all great in principle but I don’t think it gets to the heart of the problem.
RUN BETTER MEETINGS
I work with businesses and demonstrate how a well-run well organised meeting can be a sexy thing. But it takes effort – huge amounts of effort.
Here’s my top eight tips
8) Have an agenda, make it clear, explain the reason for the meeting, and send it out prior to the meeting to all participants
7) Audit your attendee’s. Ensure they are relevant, prepared, and they have what they need to participate in the meeting
6) Get the room right. Ensure you have the right room, the right equipment, everyone knows how to use it. Start conference call’s ten minutes before the meeting actually starts. Do test calls. Make sure everyone’s got a headset. Get the lighting & temperature right.
5) Lead the meeting. Stop people from having side conversations. Get people to put their phone down. If they can’t, kick them out. Really, I’ve asked CEOs to leave their own meetings before. I literally don’t care who you are. Respect everyone. Don’t take the piss.
4) Don’t allow over-running. Make sure everyone keeps to the point. I usually run a Google timer on a screen in the meeting so everyone knows how long they have. Time finishes before everyone’s done? Tough Titties. You got the meeting wrong.
3) Get the invite right. Ensure it contains no error, contains the agenda, the conference call details, the login PIN and anything else attendee’s may need. Double & triple check.
2) 30 minutes before the meeting, just drop everyone a courtesy email to remind them time is creeping up & the meeting will start shortly.
1) have a coffee…..or Whisky if you’re in an episode of Mad Men and it’s 1987.