When was the last time you heard someone say, “I love meetings!”?
My guess is, probably never.
In fact, I doubt you’ve said it yourself, even about the meetings you lead.
My theory is that people don’t hate meetings. They just hate bad meetings – and, sadly, most meetings are pretty bad.
While I don’t love all meetings, I do love helping people make their meetings better. So, after lots of requests for help recently, I decided to pull together these five signs that your meetings probably need a makeover and share them with you.
1. Only half the people pay attention half the time
Do your meeting participants look like a room full of teenagers in detention? You know the ones, faces buried in phones – probably texting a friend at the opposite end of the table about how boring the meeting is. Or pretending to review meeting materials on her laptop while really cleaning out old emails. Or staring out the window, missing half of what’s said – which doesn’t stop him from second-guessing the decision agreed to once he walks out of the room.
People probably don’t know why they’re in the room – or really don’t need to be. Maybe the meeting leader is letting one person dominate the discussion with unhelpful comments. Or maybe participants just don’t understand the purpose of the meeting and how they can contribute.
2. Your entire agenda is “updates”
Are you wasting precious in-person time just sharing information that could easily be shared via email? Or even worse, maybe you have no prepared agenda at all. My favorite scenario is the organizer who believes there is an agenda, but it’s only in his head, not shared with anyone else, and certainly not in advance of the meeting.
Updates don’t engage people in conversation. Updates aren’t always (or ever!) necessary to do in person. Getting a group together live (even via phone or videoconference) is valuable, not always easy to do and shouldn’t be wasted.
3. The perception (and/or reality) is that your meetings are a waste of time
If you often walk away from meetings feeling like you didn’t achieve your objectives, then it’s likely others feel the same. In fact, most people probably weren’t even clear on what the objectives were so they’re not sure if you met them or not – but it felt like a waste of time, so it must’ve been. Or even worse, if your entire agendas are “updates” (see #2) and you talk “at” people the whole time, then they probably wonder why you even need them there.
4. Too many people or not the right people
Do you seem always to need a meeting after the meeting? Or feel like it takes five meetings to make a simple decision? Do you find yourself inviting people to meetings just so you don’t hurt their feelings? Do you accept meeting invitations just so you don’t hurt the organizer’s feelings? Do people insist they be invited to meetings just because they want to “be in the room” – even if the meeting isn’t the place where decisions get made?
If you don’t know what you’re really trying to achieve, you can’t know who you need and how many people you need. If you’re not sharing a clear agenda in advance, with clear outcomes, then others can’t decide whether they really need to be in the meeting or not.
5. People talk past each other and everyone thinks everyone else is “asking the wrong questions” or “doesn’t understand the point” or “doesn’t get what we’re trying to do today.”
Do you feel like someone’s constantly tossing out new ideas when you’re trying to get to fewer so that you can present only two options to your boss? Or are you that guy who’s always asking about the budget implications and timeline for every possibility presented in a meeting? Does it ever feel like you’re having three totally different conversations in the same meeting? Well, if you haven’t stated the outcome and type of conversation intended for the agenda topic, then you probably are.
Whether you lead an internal team, an organization, a board, a coalition or collaborative, or even a family, bringing people together to make sure you’re on the same page, brainstorm ideas, solve problems, make decisions or coordinate efforts is key to getting things done. But only when those get-togethers are effective, efficient, productive and engaging.
If that’s not how you’d describe most of your meetings, then it might be time for a meeting makeover.
If you’re ready to move your meetings from the “before” disaster to the “after” dream, then join me live on Monday, Oct 21 @ 1:30 PM EDT for Monday Meeting Makeover.
I’ll be LIVE on Facebook for 30 minutes to share meeting makeover tips, answer questions and offer real-time problem solving for your meeting emergencies.
As a special bonus, all Facebook Live attendees will get access to my Meeting Makeover Kit after the event.
I’ll see you on the 21st!
P.S. I bet you’re also experiencing meetings where people show up late and/or leave early, or that never start on time and always run over. Don’t worry, I’ve got “fixes” for those problems too!