We have all heard the cry across the boardroom table and down the corridors of, “oh no not another meeting”. I am sure also that at least once in your working life you have finally sat down at your desk after a plethora of meetings and started your ‘real work’.
Please don’t feel like you are alone. Recent statistics show that on average we spend around 1.5 to 2 hours per day at work in meetings and it is only increasing. For those who hold NFP board positions the numbers can be even higher and the days longer.
What is the answer to taming this time thief and making it a productive part of your day?
One of the dictionary terms for a meeting is “an assembly or conference of persons for a specific purpose”. If we accept this definition, we can say that every formal or informal meeting of two or more persons technically falls into this category.
So what makes a casual discussion in the about projects or board issues more productive, and perceived as better value, than the one you have been invited to by the CEO or Chair..
The failure of meetings can stem from many issues that include a lack of planning, poor direction, the wrong or too many participants and a lack of purpose. There can however be other underlying causes that come from a lack of commitment and belief from the very people who are there to participate and make things happen.
You, yes you, can work on some of the key things that can make that ‘assembly or conference of persons for a specific purpose’ or meeting a success.
Firstly, ask why you have been invited and what is your role. Gaining an understanding of your potential contribution is a great start to embracing the purpose and expected outcomes.
Suggest different types of meetings or alternatives. In my time as a facilitator I have used many different methods to convene a meeting. Why not try stand up meetings, Skype, walking meetings, lunch meetings or power meetings. You can also use other technology to create discussions that have non urgent timelines.
Come to the meeting prepared. Don’t just think you’ll wing it or see what everyone else has to say. Do some research, ask the convener what they want to achieve. If you are there as a representative or executive, ask your team or committee members for some ideas or suggestions.
Give your opinion; not just what you think others want to hear, but what you know and your professional evaluation of the topic.
Be an action person. At the end of the meeting ask if there are any tasks to complete and what is the timeline. Clarify and be clear on what you have to do.
After the meeting, brief others as necessary. Be concise and be positive, and if you have walked away from the meeting agreeing on direction or actions, don’t go back on your commitment or start complaining.
Lastly, make a diary note of actions and follow up with key people to ensure you stay on track. You never know where your positive attitude might take you.