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Not another (!!!) Meeting!

By | David Klaasen | Helping You Create Clarity, Inspire Your People & Drive Performance | Retain your best people | Changing Management Mindsets and Behaviour | Practical Behaviour Analytics

Communication is the oil in the engine of any business and yet is it often neglected, careless or squandered – especially in meetings. Few people look forward to business meetings because they are frequently felt to be unproductive and a waste of time. But all too often they are also reluctant to put in the required effort to prepare in advance, be on time and stick to the agenda!

You can’t have it both ways

If any of the meetings you attend are unproductive; what are you doing about it? Are you contributing to the late starts, lack of focused agendas or digressions that make the meeting run over? A little self-discipline and efficient time management can transform the effectiveness of meetings, improve decision making and develop powerful teamwork. But it is all about keeping the fundamental principles in mind.

There is a popular and often misquoted piece of research from the 1950s by George Miller that the maximum number of items a person can hold in their mind at once is seven. More recent findings show that actually we can only hold about 4 items or concepts in our mind at any one time. It reduces rapidly to only one if things get more complex, if we are tired or if we are over or under-stressed in any way. For example, you may find it easy to keep 4 numbers in your mind, but can you recall the four sentences in this paragraph without rereading?

No wonder meetings often seem so chaotic and full of misunderstandings – no one can really understand what is going on!

Keeping you on track

There is a bewildering amount of information out there about how to run a meeting but I like to keep things very simple – the way your brain likes it! So here are the four fundamental principles of effective meetings to keep you on track.

  1. Why? – Are the purpose and outcomes clear?
  2. What? – Is there a clear Agenda with specific times allocated for each item?
  3. Who? – Who really needs to be there? What contribution will they be expected to make?
  4. When? – Is the timing appropriate? For attendees and availability of information: i.e. time of Day, Week, Month, Year?

Keeping the above in mind when planning for a meeting or considering them when you are invited to a meeting may help you decide if it will be a productive use of your precious time, or not. Can the outcome be achieved without holding a meeting? Will a phone call or brief one-to-one chat suffice?

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