Five Ideas to Improve Meeting Productivity
The whole world is constantly participating in meetings. “Let’s have a meeting,” “I am in a meeting,” “Call you right back after the meeting,”
They are statements you hear all the time. Sometimes, it makes me wonder if most everyone I know is so often in one meeting or another who then, in heaven’s name, is minding the, proverbial, store? Who is building the bridges and who is baking all the bread in the world?
The truth is that a lot of time, across the world, is being wasted in and during meetings. Should we be able to salvage all the wasted energy from the din and noise generated during meetings then we would have no energy crisis. We’d be cutting down lesser trees, digging up lesser oil and, leaving lesser carbon foot-prints on the face of this lovely planet. The air will be cleaner, the oceans will start cooling down and the birds won’t always have to fly south.
A typical meeting usually starts late and it involves catching up with others, waiting for the late-comer, listening to his excuses and a traffic-report of the city; bringing him up to speed, ordering coffee, re-reading the minutes of the last meeting, plugging the computers, logging onto the net and rushing through the true agenda so as to catch up with the next meeting at another venue…ad nauseam.
If this is even partially true for you then here are five quick ideas to bash up the beast of bad meetings. Five ideas is a good number because it represents the number of sensory inputs and outputs and research in the field of neurosciences has shown that the conscious mind can only juggle and manage seven plus minus two chunks of information at a given moment.
Idea One: Email everyone, a substantial time before the meeting, a five-point agenda that is more illustrative than narrative. Use sketches, diagram and flowcharts because pictures are easier to remember than words. Assign expectations and tasks for every individual. Keep it simple and to the point.
Idea Two: During the meeting issue a little more detailed version of the same illustration to everyone with their roles and tasks color segregated. Allow space for that individual to make and takes notes. Look up Edward De Bono’s ‘Six Thinking Hats’ and use the science behind Five of those hats. Throw out one of the hats or use it as a pan to collect penalties from the late-comers and hecklers in meetings.
Idea Three: Choose one big, hairy goal for the meeting and less than three minor goals to be achieved as outcomes of the meeting. Hang a large sign of the big, hairy goal where everyone can see it before and during the meeting. The large visual aids focus, and like bees to honey, such that everyone will keep directing their conversations to the big, hairy goal. The minor ones will easily fall in place just like dominoes do. You have heard this, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.”
Idea Four: Allow a few minutes before the meeting ends to stamp “Done!”on the big, hairy goal sign and the small illustrative notices that you sent out. Capture the outcomes of the meeting in an illustrative format and sketch out the measures and the next, big hairy goal for the next meeting. Oops, scratch out the last sentence! Your every meeting should be good enough for you and your team never to meet again.
Idea Five: All research, option generation, plans, milestones, measures are elements of cerebral thinking but true choices are made from the depths of our hearts. Treat each other with respect, kindness and empathy so as to nurture their emotional sides and also allow deeper experience and wisdom to evolve. Sure, shoot down the late-comers and the hecklers too!
Practice these five ideas if you like or chuck them out the window. It is best to just roll up your sleeves and bake that bread, build those bridges or chill by the beach instead of participating in meaningless, chaotic meetings.
Here’s hoping your meetings are always lean, mean and the rest of the year be happy, healthy and and very productive for you and your teams!
Unleashing Comunication Excellence!
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