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Why Meetings?

Have you ever been in a meeting and said to yourself - "What the heck is this meeting for anyway?" Chances are you weren't the only person asking themselves that question. If you've ever had that thought about a meeting that you called, you really have jumped the shark. When you reach that point it's time to regroup.

Thanks to my good friend and colleague Mike Vermillion, there's a way to declutter your calendar and the calendars of those around you using a simple methodology. It involves three steps:

  1. PURPOSE: As the meeting leader, ask yourself: "Why are we here?" There are a few great reasons to meet and thousands of lousy reasons to gather. "Updating the Boss" is not a great reason. Kicking off a key project, setting new expectations, communicating results - by all means, get together. Weekly status updates when the business already has a way to track opportunities and success electronically - don't waste the entire team's time.

  2. PROCESS: "How are we going to get there?" is the next part. Presumably, there's a process to follow to "kicking off a key project" or "implementing a revised strategic business plan". If not, revert back to Step 1 where the meeting objective has just become "develop and implement a process to communicate results." Create a flow chart if you must, if only for communication purposes. I was affiliated with a business where there were 38 discrete steps in order to properly quote a project. It was a complicated business to be sure but come on, really?

  3. PAYOFF: "What are the next steps?" Maybe if everyone in the room doesn't understand what they have to do next then they shouldn't have been in the meeting in the first place. Or their role wasn't fully explained or some version of one or the other. It's your job as the leader to make sure everyone understands and can articulate their role. It shouldn't be a point of embarrassment to ask "Bob, I know that you've worked on several similar projects like this but this one is a little bit tricky -is there anything that you aren't sure about or any questions I can clear up now?" That's Bob's cue to speak up, and it also provides an opening for someone else to ask additional questions.

Meetings should be brief, relevant and timely.

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