Meetings – they are a fact of our business lives. And while number of meetings and amount of time you spend in them may vary based on your job title, it is hard to argue that they are a significant part of business life today.
Anything that consumes a major chunk of our time is ripe for analysis and is likely a great source of productivity improvement. And meetings are no exception.
Even a casual conversation about business life will soon get to frustrations and challenges people experience in meetings. You will quickly hear things like:
“They are such a waste of time.”
“We never seem to finish anything.”
“We just spend too much time in meetings.”
“How can I get my work done when I spend all my time in meetings?”
“I’m not sure why I was at that meeting.”
I’ll bet you’ve said or thought one or more of these things yourself.
In my experience, there are several questions we can ask to help improve effectiveness of our meetings. But one of those should clearly come first. It is question we should ask at very start of planning any meeting. Answering this question carefully is fastest way to improve our meetings.
The First Question
Do we need a meeting?
Too often people don’t ask this question. They have information to share, a problem to solve, or a question to consider and so they do what they always do – they schedule a meeting. We do this for many reasons, including:
-Wanting everyone to be involved
-Not wanting someone to feel left out
-Wanting everyone to buy-in to results of meeting
And most common reason, habit.
We schedule meetings because that is what we have always done.
How to Answer Question
The first hurdle is to ask question. Once you have asked yourself question, you need to know what to consider when answering question. Think about:
•Geographic location of information/participants. If your whole group is located together this is less of an issue, but it is a definite consideration if your people are spread out or travel regularly.
•Number of people affected. If number of people affected by issue or information is really large, method of sharing information might be different, alternatively if number affected is small, getting them together might be best answer.