“I’m not supposed to be here. This is not happening.” Is that how you feel when you attend a meeting that just seems to be a waste of your time. Well, how do you feel when you are the one conducting the meeting and as you look around, attenders are doodling, staring off into space, checking messages, texting, and yes, even coloring. What about those attenders who talk too much, speak out of turn, and try to inject their own agenda? And, let’s not forget Johnny come lately who raises his hand and ask, “What did I miss?” Yeah, you too feel like saying, “I’m not supposed to be here. This is not happening.”
Is it any wonder why people hate going to meetings? Meetings could and would be a lot more simple and peaceful if people would just check their egos at the door, come prepared, stick to the agenda, and turn off or silence those smartphones! Ooh, did I say that out loud? Well, I can’t help you with the egos, but I can help you make your meetings a little bit more PEACEFUL. Try the following.
Benjamin Franklin was once asked – How long does it take to cut down a tree? He said it takes six hours -five hours to plan and one hour to cut it down. – When you put sufficient time into planning your meetings it will help you answer the who, what, where, why, when, and how, which will help the meetings to stay on point and not make the attenders wonder, – Why am I here?
Contact all those who need to be invited. To avoid confusion, make sure the email shows date, time, location, and name and telephone number of person to contact.
Ask for input
Why are meetings so boring to many? Because everybody listens to the same station – WIIFM – What’s in it for me? If attenders do not see how what you are presenting benefits them, you may lose them at some point. So when preparing your agenda, prepare with the attenders in mind. Ask for their input.
Control the flow of the meeting
Start on time. Communicate your expectations at the start of the meeting. Stay on point. Minimize interruptions. End on time.
Encourage participation. Evaluate the meeting. End with a thank you.
Encourage participation through open-ended questions, and ask attenders for their thoughts and opinions. Use and view evaluation forms as constructive feedback. It is not necessary to do this at every meeting. However, it is important to get feedback from those attending your meetings. And, of course ending with the words – Thank you – goes a long way.
Send a recap to those who attended as well as those who missed the meeting so that everyone will be on the same page and know what has been discussed and decided.
Update latecomers with printed information they missed. Because you did not stop, recap, and start again each time someone came in to your meeting late.
Let attenders know date for next meeting.
Look out for a future article on how to keep it simple when conducting meetings.
What is the longest you have waited for someone before you start to get annoyed or even worried? Sure, you’ve followed all the experts’ advice – When you must wait, occupy your time with some reading, needlepoint, or crossword puzzles. However, when there is that one particular person who keeps you waiting all the time, how much reading, needlepoint, and crossword puzzles can you do? There is no emergency. She isn’t stuck in traffic. She’s just late. And, when she arrives, she nonchalantly says, “Hey girl.” No apologies, no excuses, just “Hey girl.” Inside you are boiling, but with a half-baked smile you reply, “Well, it’s about time!”
It is about time. It is always about time. Everything we do is connected to time. Can you imagine what our lives would be like if the earth’s rotation around the sun changed by a few hours every other day or every other week? Can you imagine the chaos airlines would experience if each pilot took off at will? Or, can you imagine what a disaster your dinner party would be if you decided a 20-minute recipe should cook another 20 minutes?
Now that we’ve put time in perspective, let’s consider why we treat this precious resource with such little respect. I’ve narrowed it down to two reasons – Our attitude and our choice of words (which of course affects our attitude).
Attitude: It has been said, life is 10% of what happens to us, and 90% is our attitude towards what happens to us. The same problem may affect two individuals. However, you will get two different reactions. It is no different with time. We each have the same 24 hours in a day – every day. Yet, some get things done. Others don’t. It has a lot to do with how time is viewed. Is time viewed as the enemy? There’s just never enough time. You can’t find the time. Time runs out. Time escapes you. If that is your view, then time is the enemy. On the other hand, however, time is a friend when it is viewed as an asset, your most important resource, and money in the bank.
Choice of words: Many experts refer to disorganization, people interrupting, the telephone, paper mail, email, and all things social media as time bandits, or time stealers. If they are time bandits and that is our thinking, that means our time was taken without our permission. We are the innocent victims. Here’s a news flash! There are no time bandits. Bandits usually take things without a person’s knowledge. However, we know when we’ve stayed on the phone too long. We know when we’ve stayed at the water cooler too long. We also know we did not plan our day properly so now that report is a day late. What might be a better choice of words? Time wasters. And, who is wasting the time? We are. When we change our choice of words, we in effect change our way of thinking.
What do you think about time?
And oh yeah, about that friend who keeps you waiting- let her know that you are giving her a grace period of no more than 15 minutes past the agreed time to meet, and if she hasn’t shown up, you’re leaving. “Bye, girl!”