June 8, 2018
The scene is a familiar one. You skim through your calendar Sunday night in preparation for the week and it hits you. Look at all those meetings. You sit there wondering how you’re going to fit any actual work in.
This isn’t a new scenario. On the contrary, this has been a constant touchpoint (some would argue pain point) that affect all of us. There have been countless articles written on the subject. Some claim meetings ruin productivity. Others say they inhibit creativity. There always seems to be a meme, giphy, or cultural reference to make us feel like we’re all suffering together (The Office, Season 6, Episode 7). Yet they remain constant in our work lives. This means we’re still scheduling them, attending them and complaining about them. So, I’ve come to the conclusion that they are here to stay. And because they aren’t going anywhere, I wanted to share some ideas on how to make the most out of them. Hey, if you can’t beat them, join them.
I hate to break it to you, but a meeting actually starts when your 15-minute reminder timer goes off. Have you read the meeting agenda? How about the pre-read materials shared by the organizer? Do you know where you’re going and what you need to bring? Take the time (before the scheduled hour) to ensure that you understand why this meeting has been called and prepare yourself for a productive discussion. Always show up on time and ask ALL of the questions.
Time is valuable. If you’re in the room it’s because your presence has been considered essential. Role assignment is an effective way of making sure everyone in the room is engaged and all the bases are covered. Giving everyone a task will keep the full room paying attention.
More often than not, things get lost in translation. A record of a meeting is your friend when it comes to remembering what was agreed upon and who is responsible for next steps. Although sometimes tedious, this will pay dividends. Along with having a recap of the conversation, keeping to the allotted time frame is important. Having a time tracker helps when a conversation is derailing the focus of the meeting (this could be an assigned role, see above).
You’ve just had a successful huddle. Congratulations! Remind everyone of next steps and responsibilities. It’s crucial everyone on the team is aware of the timeline they’re tracking towards – share it in the follow-up!
This is singularly, hands-down your best asset to having a fruitful gathering. Don’t be afraid to leave your phone at your desk and (if possible) keep your computer closed to avoid any distractions. If you’re going to attend a meeting, honor your time by making the most of what’s been put in front of you.