37B/Yr. Lost in Inefficient Meetings
No matter if it’s an RFP presentation, capabilities pitch or internal meeting. These things can cause loss of time and money (Cue the Meaningless Meeting Maniacs). So please humor us all and knock it off!
Do you feel you have to say something to matter what in every meeting? What about repeating what other people say when it adds no value? These drive most people mad and you might just be hogging the show. I know you love to hear yourself talk, and that’s great. But if it doesn’t add value, make a point or do anything besides stroke your ego – stuff a sock in it. The point of any meeting isn’t to boost your ego.
Do you go on an excessive amount of tangents during meetings? Have you ever heard someone say “let’s take it offline” but you still keep going? Please stop. Make sure it’s relevant to the agenda or is help solving a problem. Otherwise, schedule another meeting to address it, those things can wait. And give your yapper a much-needed rest.
Disrespectful (of anyone’s time)
Did you show up 10 minutes late to a 30-minute meeting? This is disruptive, and it wastes more time to catch you up. And to top it all off, you’ve made THAT meeting run over time. Stop the madness! We are all busy. And I’m sick of every company I go to having the standard “5-minute rule.” If you can’t show up on time, don’t. Schedule a follow-up instead. Or let’s make a standard 30 minutes, now 45.
Have you ever walked into someone’s office and you literally sit there for 5 minutes for them to finish up an email or some other task? Besides asserting your dominance, it’s coming off as tacky. You knew the meeting was in 5 minutes. You got the outlook reminder. So wrap that up before I get there. Don’t waste my time and make me stare at the walls or check my phone
Did you send out an agenda or pre-read ahead of time so everyone is aware of what is being covered/what needs to be done prior? Or did you make it a double super secret meeting with no information, attachments or agenda? Entertaining as this may be, it’s wasting our time. If we can’t come prepared, we’re going to slow things down.
On the other hand, did you NOT read the pre-read, agenda or gain a better understanding of your role prior to going. Simple things can save you and the team time. Otherwise, you too win the award from slowing down the meeting by being unprepared!
Presentation faux pas
Yes, I asked you for a company overview, global presence, and team profiles. But I did not need the entire 50-year detailed history, the name of every single office site or each team member’s life story. Please include things like this in the presentation, just don’t spend 20 minutes with an encyclopedia-length response!
On the note of presenting, please know your audience. I’ve been at companies where they welcome you pitching over and above what was requested if it’s insightful and applicable. But I’ve also seen this go horribly wrong. Recently we had a company pitch full services vs. the expectations in the RFP and it tragically blew up in their faces. And in my opinion, they should have won. It’s a gamble. So may the odds ever be in your favor!
Have. An. Agenda. You need goals and outcomes to make a meeting successful. Make sure it’s crystal clear and make sure to send out pre-reads/reminders. You’re wasting everyone’s time if it takes 10 minutes to explain why they are there, or they have to go back and get their laptops for a 30-minute meeting. And odds are you aren’t going to finish it in the remaining 10-15 minutes since the standard rule of thumb is to be 5-10 minutes late!
The last and favorite of all my meeting issues (aside from the fact there are way too many), is using your cellphone or laptop. We all have the technology. But if you’re bored and constantly staring at a screen, it makes everyone feel awkward. Because they know you aren’t paying attention. And if it’s important, show some respect and step outside to finish what you are doing. Let’s not add to the 37B lost in terrible meeting management.
But don’t take it from me alone. Check out HBRs (Harvard Business Reviews) on “Stopping the Meeting Madness.” https://hbr.org/2017/07/stop-the-meeting-madness
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