Most professionals dream of better hair, a slimmer waist, and shorter meetings. At best you’ll probably only be able to achieve one of these goals this year. As I’m not the guy to address hair or fitness challenges, let’s talk about meetings.
The biggest complain is that they run too long. This doesn’t happen by accident. Let’s review some of what turns a ten minute talk into a hours of purgatory:
If You Breath, You Must Talk
In some organizations the corporate culture makes everyone feel like they have to contribute to a discussion. Not talking is seen as losing power in the company hierarchy.
As a result, you get people talking who really don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s similar to when a fan of the TV show, House, decides to diagnose your ailments. Just because someone has a voice, doesn’t mean it needs to be heard in every meeting.
Good Times Gang
These meetings tend to be a lot of fun. People talk about what they watched on TV last night, jokes are shared, and there’s lots of laughter.
There’s also very little work getting done. This scenario is especially common in organizations that are experiencing challenges. Part of the problem is that no one is willing to make a tough decision. It’s much easier and more fun to talk about American Idol.
This person frequently spends the entire meeting doodling. So while everyone else is talking about important stuff, his or her attention is spent recreating the Sistine Chapel on a legal pad. It’s a distraction. Would you want a pilot doodling while landing a plane. Put down your pencil and focus on the meeting. This is another example of giving the gift of your attention to others.
Some will say they need to draw to think. This may be true but I think better while getting a massage and I’m not getting one during the session.
Don’t Wait For Me
This person doesn’t like meetings. The challenge is that the meeting is probably being held for that person’s benefit or because his or her input is needed. Arriving fashionably late, lengthens the session for all. Treat meetings like a surprise birthday party, where if a guest doesn’t come on time to hide behind the sofa, the surprise is spoiled.
Lighting Cigars With Money
Long meetings often become the equivalent of burning lots of $20 or $50 bills. Look around the room at your next meeting. Calculate how much you’re paying people to sit in a room. It can add up fast. Is it any wonder that you may be falling short of your big picture goals? Instead of chasing them, your team is molding the furniture to the backsides.
Meetings are part of our working world but you can make them more effective by avoiding these traits.