Yep, meetings stink: Here’s how to improve them
- Last Updated: 3:40 PM, May 24, 2012
- Posted: 11:18 PM, May 20, 2012
Let it be stipulated that 99 percent of workers have attended a meeting that was dry as dust, boring as hell and — to put it kindly — a complete waste of time. So we won’t waste your time building the case that meetings can be dreary, tedious and unproductive.
You know that. We know that. Everyone knows that.
And we’re not in the business of creating fantasy scenarios about an office with no meetings, where workers are free to produce and create with only the occasional “Atta boy!” from the boss as feedback.
You’ll always have meetings. We’ll always have meetings. Everyone will always have meetings.
So the relevant issue is simple: Since meetings are a part of life — and in the case of many workers, a fairly relentless part of it — what can be done to make them less deadly? Or even, dare we say it, productive and engaging?
It can be done, say experts — and it should be.
“The fact that we’ve decided that meetings just suck and that’s how life is, is really throwing in the towel,” says Patrick Lencioni, a management consultant and the author of “Death by Meeting.”
“What we have to do is stop having bad meetings.”
To help you achieve that, we interviewed a panel of experts and business people to create a grab-bag of suggestions for making meetings something other than the bane of a worker’s existence. From streamlining agendas to culling guest lists, below is a list of tips to observe before, during and after a meetup.
Know your mission: If the point of meetings was simply to get a bunch of people together, then an open bar and buffet table would be de rigueur in every conference room. But meetings aren’t parties; they need a purpose and a plan. If that sounds obvious, consider how often powwows meander along with neither.
“What is the mission? What is it that we hope to accomplish and be done with when we walk out the door?” says Jon Petz, a consultant and the author of “Boring Meetings Suck.”
Before a meeting starts, attendees should know the goal — paring down a list of proposals from 10 to two, for example. And when a meeting ends, attendees should leave with a plan of action to enact, such as arranging presentations for the two proposals that made the cut.
Be selective: A business meeting isn’t Bonnaroo. Keep the guest list exclusive.
“Invite as few people as possible to get the job done. If you can accomplish the task with five people, don’t invite 10,” says Robert Hurley, a professor at Fordham School of Business and president of the consulting firm Hurley Associates.