“Yay! They scheduled a meeting! I can’t wait to go sit in the conference room for an hour!”
Said no one ever.
I don’t know a single person who loves attending meetings at work. They’re tedious, long, and often pointless.
Back in my corporate days, I remember plenty of meetings that ended by scheduling another follow-up meeting to discuss whatever we didn’t get to in the first meeting.
It’s madness, I say!
And even if you start your own business, you’ll still have meetings with your assistant, designer, photographer, marketing guru, and anyone else on your team. I sometimes wonder if I’m resisting hiring my own team because I’m trying to avoid meetings. Hmm…
Let’s give our meetings purpose again! I promise these action steps will be more fun than your last meeting.
Here are some questions to ask to make the most of your meetings.
Do we really need a meeting?
You’d be surprised at how many meetings are unnecessary and could easily be resolved with a few emails or a simple phone call. See if there’s a quicker way to solve this issue without dragging everyone into the conference room.
Do I need to be there or can someone give me the gist of it?
Your time is valuable, and I’m sure you can relate to being in a pointless meeting while the minutes tick away when you could be doing something truly important.
Ask the meeting organizer if you can sit this one out and get the summary later. Or maybe they can move your part to the beginning so you can leave after the first 10 minutes.
Do we have an agenda?
Do not—I repeat—do not attend any meeting that doesn’t have an agenda! This is a winding path to nowhere that will take 10 times as long as a properly laid out meeting.
If this is your meeting, write a short agenda. If not, ask the organizer for an agenda ahead of time. This will also help you determine if you need to be there.
Who’s keeping us on track?
Assign a leader (or claim the position yourself) to help reign in the side conversations and keep everyone on track. It’s not about being a bully or Debbie Downer, but making sure you get through the agenda within the time allotted—or earlier!—and that everyone knows their next tasks to complete.
Does your usual leader make the meetings drag on…and on…and on? Gently ask to take over the responsibility next time.
Do we have a recap?
Ask someone with good handwriting or fast typing skills to take notes of all action items and ideas. These summaries are important for the people who couldn’t be there and to hand out next steps. Speak of next steps…
What are the next steps?
I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve been in where there were no action steps or tasks handed out at the end. And in many cases, they scheduled a follow-up meeting to assign tasks.
Put a stop to this endless cycle of meeting nothingness!
Five minutes before the end of the meeting, stop the conversation and get the next steps nailed down. Boom! Done.
Do you have a meeting horror story?
In the comments below, share the worst meeting you’ve been stuck in and your tips for better meetings.
This post focuses on Step 4 of the Life Editing Process, Rearrange Everything Into a Perfect Flow. For more about life editing and what it can do for you, click here.