Bad Meetings: And What to Do About Them…
4 Minute Read
We’ve all had those days. The days where we go from meeting to meeting, only to find that at the end of the day, we didn’t get anything productive done. Bad meetings are the cause. We get frustrated and think, “What a waste of time!” Yet, it happens again and again. For multiple reasons: people schedule meetings that don’t need to happen; they invite people that don’t need to be there; hold meetings for much longer than they should; they don’t have a purpose or an agenda; and they waste our precious time.
Yet, what do we do? We keep accepting the meeting invitations, in hopes that this next one will be different. David Grady calls this phenomenon MAS, or Mindless Accept Syndrome. An involuntary reflex in which a person accepts a meeting invitation without even thinking why. A common illness among office workers worldwide.
In this video, David Grady explains that we allow our coworkers to steal from us. They steal something we can never get back. They steal our valuable time. Instead of protecting our time, we always accept and attend the meeting, only to find that our time would have been better spent elsewhere. Grady gives a comical example of bad meetings, and then provides us with a few tips on how to make our meetings more productive.
MAS (noun): Mindless Accept Syndrome. An involuntary reflex in which a person accepts a meeting invitation without even thinking why. A common illness among office workers worldwide.
– David Grady
So, how do you avoid bad meetings? Work to make them more effective, and help stop “MAS” from spreading! Here are a few guidelines to follow:
Ask yourself if the meeting is necessary.
Do you really need a thirty-minute conference call to update your team on a project, or would a detailed email be sufficient? Sometimes people meet just to meet, and that is usually never really productive for anyone. In instances like project updates, summarize your work using bullet-points and send the information to only those that actually need it. At the end of the email, include a quick statement to respond to you directly with questions. Bad meeting avoided!
Define your purpose.
If you have deemed it necessary to hold a meeting, make sure you have a goal in mind before you invite others. Think about what are you looking to achieve. What is the purpose of, or reason you’re holding, the meeting? What outcome are you hoping to leave with by the end of the meeting?
Have an agenda.
And send it out ahead of time. Meetings with no agenda can easily get off-track, wasting time and diverting from your purpose. When you put multiple personality types in one room, it can be hard to redirect. The agenda gives you a tool to both run the meeting, and to get people back on track. Agendas can also give your team the chance to prepare instead of providing initial reactions during the meeting.
Define your roles.
Just as if you’re coaching others, people need to know what is expected of them. You can’t just assume that someone will capture the important parts of the meeting and sum it up for you. Who is responsible for leading the meeting? Has someone been designated to take notes? Do you expect any of your team members to bring research or present during the meeting? And who will be sending out the assignments and next steps?
Invite only those who need to attend.
It’s natural to want to include your whole team, and may seem like “the right thing to do.” But by including every person on your team, you may be stealing from them, like Grady suggested. Is it actually necessary for every person to be there? Are there some folks who won’t be affected by the issue? If they don’t need to be there, allow them to sit out so that they can spend their time working on higher payoff activities.
Start on time, and end on time.
Another thing that goes back to that precious resource we have so little of. People have set aside their time for you. Be respectful and make sure you don’t keep them waiting, or keep them longer than you specified.
Bad meetings don’t have to control your life anymore.
The bottom line is that bad meetings don’t have to control your life anymore. Take back your time and give your team back their time. You might just find that people are more appreciative, and your day is a little more productive!
For more on effective meetings, click here!