Are you brave enough to challenge the meeting status quo?
I was speaking with an exasperated client this week about her biggest frustrations. Meetings that go round and round in circles frustrated her the most. Virtual meetings were sometimes worse.
There is a way to change the meeting status quo in your organisation, but you need to be brave.
And you’ll need the support of your team to make it work. Because meetings can creep into your calendar through no fault of your own. The meeting schedulers have the best of intentions, but what’s needed is a difficult conversation about whether the meeting is necessary at all. And sometimes that is not their call.
The 2021-2023 President of Rostrum WA, Ryan Whiddett, is well known as “the person to never accept a meeting request without an agenda”. In a workplace where you’re not the top boss, to do this demonstrates inner confidence and respect for your time. Are you as brave as Ryan?
Meeting creep needs to be “interrupted”. Only then will the weight of the meeting elephant in the room be addressed.
Meetings get into a pattern that people expect, just like a merry-go-round that never stops. It doesn’t mean the group likes the pattern, they’ve just fallen into it. You need to interrupt the patterns that don’t serve you positively.
How to interrupt meeting creep and break the cycle of circular meetings…
- No agenda? Then decline the meeting request.
- If a decision can be made by email then don’t meet. Only meet if there’s no alternative.
- If you must meet, only have the people who need to be there.
- Before scheduling a meeting, question whether it’s necessary.
- Before accepting a meeting, question what will be discussed. If there is no reason for you to be there, decline the meeting.
Tips from David Julian Price’s Meeting Management System designed to give you back time…
- Start every meeting with “what questions need to be answered at this meeting?” This provides focus.
- Clarify exactly what result is needed from the discussion – the precise decision required.
- Allow everyone who wants to speak to have their say.
- Don’t allow people to speak twice until everyone has spoken once.
- Ask the questions that need to be answered and make a consensus decision.
- Set a time limit for discussion. At the end of the time, make the decision.
- Have an agenda that’s detailed with the specific and desired outcome for each item.
- Eliminate ‘general business’ or ‘other business’. If it’s not on the agenda, don’t spend any time discussing it.
- Set a start and finishing time and stick to them. No exceptions.
- Don’t go “round the room” unless it’s a checking-in meeting.
- Halve the meeting frequency and halve the meeting duration. You’ll be surprised to find you’ll achieve the same outcomes.
- Have a stand-up meeting where possible as these are always shorter.
If you’re ready to get your meetings super organised and need help quickly, David is at the other end of an email or phone.