We have all experienced this and some of us we have found ourselves being the victim way too many times. Of course what I am referring to is being meetnapped. That is to say being held against your will in a meeting room. You find yourselves being held hostage without an obvious escape route. Meetings are “where minutes are taken and hours are wasted”. It can be so frustrating when you know you have a stack of things to do back at your desk and you just know you can spend your time so much more productively.
The question is not how often we are the victim (just don’t go to he next meeting or delegate it) but rather how often we may be inflicting the same on others. It is obvious that in many work places there are just too many meeting or the meeting is attended by such a crowd, you just can’t stop yourself using your basic arithmetic to work out how much this meeting is costing based on the estimated salaries in the room. And yet, a meeting is the only way sometimes to progress a project or realise a common goal. So next time you start inviting everyone to your meeting think first:
This obviously depends on the topic(s) to be discussed, but only invite those that can contribute to the meeting. Should it not be up to those attending to make sure they take into account all the views or knowledge for the business area for which they are responsible. Also ask yourself if those attending are well positioned to make decisions.
There are always others who would like to be kept on the loop, but they could always be sent a copy of the minutes later. Generally the fewer the attendees the quicker the meeting.
There are times when the doors just need to be locked (a true meetnapping), and no one is allowed to leave until the decisions have been made, but these are rarer than you think. Honestly. Remember when you were at school and lessons were about 45 minutes max, so why do we feel the need to hold 3 hour meetings? Can anyone really keep their attention for that long and do we really think it is the most productive way of spending our time. It is also interesting that in many calendar apps the default meeting duration is 1 hour. Why? Better to keep it as short as possible, say 30 to 45 minutes. If you go for 45 minutes then you will know that anyone with a follow on meeting will appreciate the 15 minutes before the next one starts ( as everyone else will continue to call 1 hour meetings anyway).
- Don’t wait for stragglers.
Everyone should be adult enough to manage their own time and this includes being there when the meeting starts. Don’t wait and anyone who arrives late then don’t recap for them to bring them up to speed. They will have to ask someone else after the meeting.
Doing anything other than this will just send out the wrong message and next time they might just be late again. You called the meeting because it is important so you could not wait.
Ok, I know, it is obvious. However how many meetings do we all go to with poorly constructed agendas or none to start with. If you don’t have one if these then how can you expect your meeting to be structured. So do all your invitees a favour and provide one. It should contain the purpose of the meeting and the main discussion points. If you need anyone to prepare for the meeting then say so. When they can receive this well in advance it just means that everyone’s expectations is set correctly.
Keep pace of the meeting. You have already provided the agenda previously. Prior to the meeting, why not assign some durations for each agenda point so you do not lose track of your time. You called the meeting so you are most likely to chair it. Control the pace and the progress.
Also important to acknowledge any progress or achievements made to date. Everyone gets overwhelmed by the amount of work to be done and so this will give people a sense of purpose and keep an interest.
Clarify any decisions made and who owns which action.
Do the right things and people may actually enjoy attending your meetings. Better still, they may copy your approach and so by leading from the front you may not be meetnapped as often in future.