For Meetings Sake

WE’LL meet again, I know exactly where and precisely when!

Do those words strike a chord? Perhaps you are in a company where this sounds familiar, an organisation where meetings are held for meetings’ sake.

A company where your boss says, ‘right then, tomorrow, same time, same place!’

Having a meeting with nothing to discuss is rather like having icing without a cake.

If you have two hour-long meetings every day it means you are spending around a quarter of your working life in them. They can of course be useful. Equally, they can be a waste of time so you should consider more effective and efficient ways of achieving the objective.

The most essential aspect of any meeting is that others are clear about the purpose. Is it to pass on or obtain information, to seek views or to identify possible ways of dealing with a problem? It might be to take a decision, to get people to take action, to support a particular point of view, to resolve differences, review progress, or plan future work.

Whatever it is, that purpose needs to be established. The next consideration is whether you really need a meeting. Could emails, conference calls, or face-to-face chats be more of an efficient use of time?

Once it has been decided a get together is necessary, it is vital to prepare thoroughly. Identify those people you believe are essential to the meeting’s success. Those who you think need to be there. Then consider those with an interest who ought to be invited. Next, fix the date, time and venue.

The most important consideration is what outcome you hope to achieve and to make sure you prepare the ground beforehand, perhaps by speaking to key people. Make sure the agenda is with attendees in good time, not at the meeting. Otherwise they will spend the whole time reading the notes instead of listening and joining in the discussion – and possibly ask for more time to read the papers before expressing a view.

Remember, like most things, preparation, preparation, preparation is paramount.



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