Career Mastery™ Tip
How to Make Every Meeting Useful
Most of us spend a significant chunk of the day in meetings. The problem is that most meetings are inefficient, ineffective or both.
- Ineffective meetings are the worst kind because you don’t get to an outcome at all, and it’s been a total waste of time for everyone
- Inefficient meetings are a bit better since you do get to the right conclusion, but through a circuitous route
- And the ones that take forever to get nowhere are the worst
What if you could become known for being a time saver? For being someone who is effective in meetings whether you’re in charge of running it or not?
I was hosting a meeting with eight people in a conference room plus another 12 dialing in by conference call. It was on a complicated and contentious client issue that I thought was mostly the purview of my colleagues from the client team, who were included on the call.
Although I hadn’t seen it as my responsibility, I nonetheless had agreed to take the initiative to arrange the session (naively, in retrospect). After dutifully making the introductory remarks to open the discussion, I sat back and waited for the client team to take charge.
We were about 20 minutes into what was an increasingly frustrating jumble of comments going off in various different directions when someone on the conference call said, “wait a minute, what are we trying to accomplish here?”
That snapped me to attention, and I suddenly realized that everyone was looking to me for leadership on running the call. Yet, I was sitting like a lump waiting for those other colleagues to take the reins.
The rest of the call was much more efficient, but it was only thanks to that person who asked, “what are we trying to accomplish here?”
So, even people who know how to run a meeting – me, in this case – can be inadvertently ineffective. And even someone who isn’t in charge of a meeting can get things back on track again.
For the next meeting you run, make sure you establish the purpose right upfront and agree what success is for that meeting. If it works well, why not extend it to every meeting?
And for every meeting you attend, make sure you ask “what do we want to accomplish?” And as a bonus question, once they’ve answered your first question, you can ask, “do we have the right people here to do that?” That way, you can have the reputation as someone who is highly effective in meetings.
So, what strategies have worked well for you?