So, we are in the meeting business, and we know that meetings can be powerful platforms for organizational success and growth. They are opportunities to exchange ideas through hearing from some of today’s greatest thought leaders that can inspire and motivate individuals and organizations to take the next steps toward greater success. Great meetings can also be conduits to share the organizational objectives and recognize the positive efforts of the entire team. But, in reference to the sometimes daily, non-productive meetings that are a waste of everyone’s time, we need to take a look at how they are not achieving the best outcomes for the organization. We think there is value in looking at the non-stop meetings in relationship to the larger annual meetings and conferences. Both, if they are not well-planned, well-orchestrated and well-evaluated and then re-structured, are simply a waste of time and energy for everyone.
When my children were younger, when someone asked them what their dad did, they would always say, “He goes to meetings.” To them that was all he did. They didn’t realize that ideas and planning require buy in and without meeting with colleagues, clients, and management, people can’t be on the same page. However, as Steven G. Rogelberg says in his book, The Surprising Science of Meetings, “ Meetings are essential to teams and organizations.” Rogelberg is on a mission to fix the bad meetings that waste our time, bore us to death, and frustrate success.
I think we are all for fixing bad meetings. If we have to attend them, then let’s look at ways to respect other’s time and make them more efficient and engaging. According to Rogelberg, it really is up to the leader of the meeting to improve the quality of the meeting. He suggests asking the team what he or she is doing well in the meetings, what’s not working and what can be done differently. Asking people to weigh in on meeting effectiveness can change the entire experience for everyone.
The leader can change and create a positive, more effective meeting though what Rogelberg calls separation, standing and shrink. Separation is setting the stage and creating warmth, and presence, by recognizing the value each person brings to the meeting. When people enter the room, they feel welcomed and visibly notice the energy created by the leader. Standing refers to “ditching the chairs.” Simply put, sit down meetings take longer than standing meetings. It all comes down to respecting people’s time. Finally, shrinking the meeting size. The more non-essential people, the less productive. Have a rule that you don’t include “spectators.”
I can see a world where people are actually excited about going to a meeting. Through reading Rogelberg’s science-based research, we can make meetings more effective and welcoming for all.