How To Find Out Whos Asking Anonymous Questions On Ask.Fm Effective Meetings: Why Most Meetings are a Waste of Time

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Effective Meetings: Why Most Meetings are a Waste of Time

Whether your company holds one meeting a week or dozens of meetings a day it is important that this time is used efficiently and effectively. Most meetings are less effective than they could be not because they are poorly managed, but because meeting managers spend all their time focusing on the one or two hours when people gather around the table. conference or video screen. Smart meeting managers know that the actions you take in the three days before the meeting are more important than the meeting itself.

When Your Meeting Begins

The key to making your meeting successful is starting before the scheduled start time of your meeting. Just as any athlete knows the importance of stretching before a workout, top-level meeting managers know that how you spend your time the week before one meeting is as important or more important than the time of the meeting itself.

Common signs that a manager spends too much time focusing on the meeting itself and not enough time focusing on the activity leading up to the meeting include people coming to your meetings unprepared, some You are a person who suggests many ideas, and a consistent pattern of rushing things to the bottom of your agenda.

Roger Burns, a 30-year veteran of high-level meetings describes it like this, “Usually the first 20 or 30 minutes of our meetings are spent with people reading documents that I send them. over a week ago. unprepared and having no idea what questions I was going to ask in the next few minutes.”

If you’re like most, these symptoms appear more often than not. So what’s a meeting manager to do? How can you avoid these common pitfalls? The answer is simple, but it starts a whole week before the meeting is scheduled to start.

The Three P’s of Successful Meetings: Prepare, Participate, Prioritize

Although a successful meeting requires a skilled facilitator, that is only part of the puzzle. Equally important is the activity that takes place before the meeting.

The First P: Preparation

Effective use of your meeting time depends on all parties being willing to participate. This means that every person attending has read the meeting materials before the meeting takes place. In addition to this, meeting participants should be given questions to be discussed before the meeting.

Historically, most meetings began with the chairman asking questions from the audience. As an example if you are conducting a strategic planning meeting, a good question might be, “What do you think are the strengths of our organization?” At this point the discussion moves around the table with each person having two minutes to process the questions, come up with a smart sounding solution, and present the solution to the group.

The problem with this approach is that most good ideas don’t come in two minutes. Great ideas come while you’re driving to work, while you’re taking a nap, while you’re in the shower – times when you might not be with your coworkers in a meeting. (Unless you always hold your meetings in the company locker room!) Providing the questions you will ask each meeting participant before the meeting is important to get the best ideas from your participants. . It also gives them a reason to read the materials you distributed before the meeting.

The best time to distribute materials and questions is three to seven days before your meeting. It gives participants a chance to think about issues and questions, but not long enough to forget their good ideas and why they like them. The payment here is fast and clear. You will be more successful in less time – saving your organization money and allowing you to implement your ideas faster.

The Second P: Participation

Getting the best ideas from your best people is essential to making your meeting a success. The other half of this equation is getting a broad base of participation to have ownership of the solution rather than resentment.

If these two elements are so important to successful meetings, why is it so rare for them to occur simultaneously? The first reason this rarely happens is because your best idea people are usually your busiest people. More times than not these high value people who are like popcorn machines full of ideas are already scheduled for other meetings when you choose your meeting times. Although it is sometimes possible to reschedule your meeting to meet their availability, it is impossible to adjust every hour and for every need.

The second reason you rarely get your best idea of ​​the people involved and have a broad ownership base at the same time has to do with the dynamic within the meetings. Every person within your organization is different and for every person who is comfortable voicing and advocating for ideas in a meeting there are others who do not have this gift. For those who are good at verbal maneuvers, gaining support in a meeting is like a sport. For those who are less comfortable in this environment advocating a position can feel like torture. It is clear that a place is needed to give everyone the opportunity to participate in the solution in a way that is non-threatening, democratic and builds ownership directly in the process.

Do not underestimate the value of this additional participation. Ideas, initiatives and even directives that are perceived as having a broad base of support are implemented faster and with a higher level of quality. In addition to this, you get better ideas when more people are involved – especially if the people involved are the ones closest to the action and not the ones incubated in their executive offices. All of this helps you innovate faster than the competition, sell your ideas more quickly, and win the battle for consistent quality.

The Third P: Prioritize

In a perfect world we would have unlimited time each day to get everything done. Unfortunately, we live by the clock every day. Usually our meetings are full of agenda items placed there in the order shown on our table or the order we wrote them on a yellow sticky note while on the phone, with no level of importance or urgency.

The best meeting managers understand that all items on an agenda do not deserve equal weight, and they prioritize the issues that begin with the most urgency. This allows your best minutes to be dedicated to your most important things.

Unfortunately the leader’s priorities are not always the team’s priorities. There are many times when the rank and file have a burning issue that is completely out of control. Effective meeting leaders have a system for identifying and resolving such issues.

The benefit of having such a system in place is increased productivity in your most important areas. By focusing everyone’s attention on the issues that are most important to your success you will quickly see a decrease in activity without added value and more profit for your efforts.

A New Set of Tools

Now that we’ve shifted our focus from one-hour meetings throughout the week to one meeting – a new set of tools needs to be added to your toolbox.

There are many tools already available and considered to help you in the actual meeting: from flip charts to electronic white boards, from video-conferencing to the latest collaboration software that allows a group of people to edit a document from locations around the world, Companies continue to update various e-meeting solutions.

A tool that is new to this market sector is ehuddle. Ehuddle is an internet-based tool that companies use pre-meeting and post-meeting to increase the effectiveness of meetings. Started with a simple email to meet the participants, have everyone invited to the meeting preview the questions to be asked, brainstorm possible answers, and evaluate a list of possible solutions. All this activity takes place in the days before the meeting ensuring that the participants are ready for the meeting – having already thought about the important issues and evaluating possible solutions with each other.

Ehuddle uses a proprietary online format that is anonymous and democratic. This not only allows members of your committee who can’t make the meeting to provide input, it also creates an environment where no one is afraid to suggest ideas. Ownership is built into the process because everyone has a hand in evaluating each solution.

Smart meeting managers even use tools like ehuddle to set a part of the agenda. By allowing rank and file members of any group to brainstorm and rank issues that are important to them, the agenda automatically reflects the needs of the organization.

The return on investment for tools like ehuddle is quickly realized. Managers identify money lost in unoptimized meetings, low levels of engagement, and disrupted activity. Couple this with the increased productivity, faster issue identification and resolution, and faster time-to-market that the tool brings and you can quickly see that it’s a good investment.

Using this full set of tools before a meeting allows the leader to walk into the conference room or video-conference confident that the foundation has been laid for a successful meeting.

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