Want your meetings to be fast, efficient and effective?
Of course you do. Really, who wouldn’t right? So let’s take a quick look at the major hurdles you need to overcome to get you on track for doing just that.
1. Meetings are really hard to set up
Meetings are a synchronous type of communication, meaning that the communication between parties must occur at the same time. Other examples are the telephone, a conference call, a live chat room, on-site training courses. They don’t work at all if the people are not there all at the same time.
We have all been through the trauma of trying to get a certain group of people all into the same room at the same hour/day within a certain time framework. Mission pretty much Impossible.
Shared calendars are a huge help, cutting our the need to a trillion emails just to set up one meeting.
2. Meetings float on your calendar in an approximate way
Meetings need to have a start time and an end time. They really do. Most meeting organisers are great at setting a time and date. But rarely does anyone indicate when the meeting finishes. Not when it should finish. And not when it might finish. Not when you aim to have it finish. The actual time it will finish. Allow your team members to organise their time by giving them a start time and finish time.
3. Meetings are nebulous, vague concepts
If you don’t have clear and distinct (SMART) objectives, how on earth are you going to know if your collective time was well spent or not. So define what goal your meeting will reach BEFORE it starts. Also by having clearly defined goals to reach, you can also be certain to invite the only people necessary. So many meetings are over-attended, often by people who could spend their time doing other (more productive) things.
By having a clear objective that you reach by the end of the meeting, it will then be very apparent what will need doing to convert this “talk” to action, and task assigning goes ahead.
4. Meetings are really expensive
Next time you are in a meeting, just do a quick head count and estimate the hourly cost to the company of each person around the meeting table, and multiply that by the number of hours you all attend the meeting. It’s probably several thousands (of Euros/Pounds/US/Can/Aus dollars) and several gazillion of any currencies with small base units. It’s expensive any way you look at it.
Meetings are ideally short and focused. Never more than an hour. Meeting are often used to air views that are easy to communicate via other channels. If people have to actually write their views down prior to the meeting for sharing to make sure everyone is up to speed, you can guarantee that those documents will be short!
5. People are people
Sometimes people can be really annoying. Meetings often start late due to team workers getting caught in the traffic/on a phone call/by somebody in the corridor/by a large and inviting cup of coffee. After a while the company culture accepts this late start and becomes part of the norm. Being in Italy we actually have a word for that (tempo tecnico) – the time between the official and real start of the event. It’s thoroughly engrained in our culture. Believe us, you do not what to go down that road!
Also people swerve off-topic in nano-seconds. Talking about your sports team’s performance, the new coffee shop down the road, who has been up to monkey business in the store cupboard with whom is of course a vital part of business daily life, but it shouldn’t happen in precious meeting time.
People are also mostly emotional wrecks or ticking like a bomb. Sometimes in a tense situation it only takes a teeny tiny eyeball roll, the tap of pen or a well-timed sigh to trigger outbursts of epic proportions. Keeping non-verbal communication under check is often very hard.
People are also forgetful. How many meetings have you attended where someone has forgotten some vital print-out, or is unable to remember their password to access the data they need?
So, are meetings a useful business tool?
No not really! They’re mostly a complete waste of time. And another huge pitfall is that there is never a truly accurate record of exactly what happened during the meeting. Talk is dangerous! Note-taking is an approximate and vastly subjective science. There are a thousand different ways of working that are all more efficient and effective than meetings.
But that isn’t to say meetings don’t have a place in business life. They absolutely do. Meetings are simply magical for creative energies, increasing synergy and bouncing ideas off different team members. A perfect example of this is brain-storming.
Can Clools help?
We thought you would never ask! Of course Clools can help. One of our most useful modules is the Powwow module. It’s a place to list single issues that need discussion/input from team members. The time slot to get them sorted can be set up with the necessary individuals. Once the goal is achieved, document the outcome. And if necessary link at task to the PowWow. Everything is trackable, and anyone can see the state of play.
The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Our own company (a small one) has a least one weekly Powwow session (virtual). And as we go to press we can proudly announce that so far in 2017 we have had just ONE meeting.