When people ask what I do for a living, I can go into a very lengthy explanation of my roles with company culture and leadership. When someone asks my 10 year-old daughter, however, she often responds with one word "meetings".
I'd imagine you're in a similar situation. Meetings can take up most of our day, leaving little time to feel like we’re getting work done as managers. And if it feels like you’re in more and more meetings lately, you’re right. According to the WSJ, time spent in meetings has risen over the last decade, and is likely to continue to increase.
Not only are meetings on the rise, but productivity of the meetings is on the decline. Given this recent stat, you’re more than likely in the majority of people who do other things while in a meeting rather than focus on the task at hand.
If meetings aren’t going away anytime soon, how you can make your next one better?
So much of our dislike of meetings is the lack of healthy emotion from everyone involved. Either the meeting is viewed as boring because we are afraid to participate, or we might not be comfortable confronting each other on important issues. The leader of the meeting’s role is to ensure there is enough drama to invoke passion and inspiration in a topic, without tipping the scale and making it feel personal. If your next meeting is attempting to make a decision, consider starting the discussion by listing all of the reasons why you shouldn’t do a specific project. By starting off with why not to do something, you’re allowing others to share their opposing views in a more open way.
How often have you showed up to a meeting not sure of why you were there? Avoid meeting for meeting’s sake by ensuring you are creating a purpose to the meeting so others know why you’re there. Helping participants identify their role is equally important. Are they there to brainstorm or to share something? Is the intention to solve a tactical issue, or debate a larger and more strategic topic? A simple agenda can help; be clear about the goals of the meeting and the expectations of participating.
If you’re frustrated with meetings, this is good time to check out the classic Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni. In the book, he talks about the importance of creating structure for meetings. By creating a cadence and defining the goals of the meeting, you’re able to better utilize the designated time together. Consider following a similar structure mentioned in the book.
Life is too short for boring meetings. Embrace these three simple strategies the next time you’re faced with a day full of meetings to add excitement back into your meetings - and your day!