Are Meetings useless or useful?
I’ve often asked myself this very question, especially if I’m sitting in what’s feeling like the meeting that will never end… you know those marathon meetings where you feel like you need a haircut by the time it’s over! I’m thinking of the days where my faithful assistant Abigail is doing her best to keep my back-to-back meetings on time. We’d say “These meetings are lined up like planes on the runway waiting to take off…”
But it occurs to me… Are meetings really work? Honestly, in my opinion the answer to that is no. People often mistake activity for productivity. Many times in many organizations people have meetings for the sake of meetings… Now don’t start feeling guilty! I’m sure many of us have felt the question as we sat in one of ‘those’ meetings. “What in the world am I doing here?”
Meetings are not actually work! They are what you do to plan, strategize and prepare before the work begins. They are what you do post-activity to validate the execution, review productivity and identify future opportunities to grow and improve.
Here are a few tips to help turn your next meeting from a Zero to a Hero!
- Have an agenda. That means knowing the reason why you are meeting in the first place. Know exactly the ground you want to cover and by whom. Knowing the goal (or point) of the meeting gives it added purpose and focus. An agenda gives you a framework so you don’t go way off track. I like to have the main points of a meeting I’m leading jotted down or written on my white board. It really helps!
- Give key players a heads up. I hold a weekly CSA Meeting (CSA = Critical Success Areas) each week with my team. I like to give people that I’m going to be calling upon a heads up. Let them know any key or specific research, data or questions I’ll be asking. This gives the team the chance to have all pertinent data at their fingertips. People actually feel energized coming to meetings now because they feel prepared to contribute with important useful data. (This also helps the meeting go much faster.) Preparation brings peace! I typically send out an email to key players a day or two before each meeting with bullet points on some things we are going to be covering if they are in addition to the standard metrics we typically cover.
- Be brief and amazing! Don’t drag out meetings because your outlook says that this meeting is supposed to take an hour. If you finish early let them go early… it will make it easier for the times you need to go a little longer.
- Have fun. Remember we lead PEOPLE not machines. In addition to prayer I like to start meetings out with a fun story or recent team victory or outing. I truly believe that laugher is a sign of heath in the workplace!
In many of our work and ministry environments meetings are a necessity but they can and should be productive! They should set you and your team up for high-level execution and to celebrate recent victories! Don’t over-do it because the real work usually begins after the meeting is adjourned.