Wednesday, November 8, 2017

So, How Do You Feel About Meetings?

If you ever lack for conversational openings at a networking event, you can always ask "So, how do you feel about meetings?"

The other person is likely to respond with at least several minutes worth of opinion, from "there are too damn many" to "meetings are slowly killing me."

There have been many ideas over the years on how to either shorten meetings or eliminate them. There have been standing or walking meetings, which are supposed to a)shorten meetings because feet get tired from standing or walking and b)help you at least get some health benefits from the event you believe is slowly killing you. There is also the idea of making everyone put their cellphones in the middle of the table, with the idea this will keep participants from being distracted by their phones and lead to a more efficient meeting.

I've interviewed a number of experts over the years, and they all have various ideas about how to make meetings better. Most of them suggest it's critical that there be an agenda and only essential people be included in the sessions. But after that, the opinions sort of diverge. Some leaders put a time limit on meetings, and you better learn to say your ideas in a fast and concise way or you risk being cut off. There is also the opinion that you spend the first 10 minutes shooting the breeze, which gives the latecomers a chance to show up and actually makes things more efficient.

I don't profess to know the answer. Personally, I don't like meetings and I often hate them. But I know that they are necessary to getting things done, and without them I wouldn't have a chance to sit down with colleagues and focus on them face-to-face.

But is there a balance? Should some meetings be deemed as "action" meetings and require concise conversations that stick strictly to a specific agenda? If that's the case, then should meetings that are more free-wheeling be called "lazy-Susan" meetings where the conversation spins around the room as needed?

You know what? I think we need to call a meeting to discuss this.

Your thoughts?

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