Rank your last meeting

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Oct 08

If you are a knowledge worker, you likely attend a lot of meetings either in person or on a conference call.

How was your last meeting where you were in the room with the meeting organizer? Ignoring the meeting content, what activities happened in your meeting?

Did you:

  • Have an agenda for the meeting?
  • Have a clear idea of what the outcome from the meeting should be?
  • Have all of the meeting materials before the meeting so that there was time to review them?
  • Have all of the equipment set up for a presentation if there were slides?
  • Have the conference room in the meeting invitation?
  • Have the conference number on the meeting invitation?

Then, at the meeting, how often did this happen:

  • Too many people in the meeting for the topic at hand
  • People reading their Blackberry’s
  • People leaving to catch a cell phone call
  • People reading their mail on their laptops
  • People on the phone asking to repeat the question because they were doing something else
  • People on the phone asking where the speaker was in the presentation because the people in the room forget the people on the phone
  • No summation of the next actions from the meeting
  • No summation of who will be doing what for accountability for the next actions
  • No meeting minutes published

Many years ago, I would attend meetings where most participants were in the room. People had to pay attention to what was going on because all they had was the people in the room and no electronics.

Then, as business became more national and global, people started attending meetings via a conference call or some web-based meeting. Electronics started showing up in the form of cell phones and Blackberry’s.

Then business ADD showed up with everyone multi-tasking and, because you really can’t multi-task but only shift your focus from one thing to another, no one got the context of the meetings anymore.

That’s when people started to merely show up for meetings, but not actively engage in them.

There are suggestions, of course, for having better meetings. But I thought I’d have you count how many of the above steps happened at your last meeting. Then rank your meeting in terms of effectiveness.

Then wonder how anything gets decided, much less done.

  • The majority of meetings I attend are fully prepared and we agree up front if someone needs to have their mobile phone on for a particular reason. I think it boils down to the respect and organisation/control skills of the ‘chairperson’.

    These days I do see less and less minutes being created and no summarisation.


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