The Wharton School maintains there are three reasons to hold a meeting. Period. To:
- “Create a forum—an opportunity for individuals with different values, ideas and experiences to share their perspectives.”
- Make decisions and set “direction for the organization or unit.”
- Build and/or make a team stronger through “developing collective capabilities.”
They further maintain (as do we), that meetings should never be held:
- For information exchange, or
- Soapboxing (telling rather than exchanging).
If you are holding meetings for the two purposes directly above. Stop it immediately. If you are holding meetings for any reasons other than the top three listed, you are:
- Wasting precious productive time,
- Wasting precious financial resources (check out this meeting cost calculator),
- Encouraging unproductive behavior,
- Forcing everyone to multitask (especially during the meetings), and
- Diminishing employee respect and loyalty.
Inc.com published these alarming (U.S. only) statistics:
- There are 25 million meetings held each day,
- That’s $37+ billion a year,
- Of which, 67% are unproductive.
Worse yet, if you have remote personnel or associates attending, and they are on voice-only, no visual, real-time streaming, 80% disengage almost immediately.
So, before you schedule a meeting or allow your staff members to do so, ask yourself (or them) these questions:
- Does this meeting foster exchange of experiences and perspectives that result in action items that deliver operational excellence?
- Will the outcome be firm decisions about courses of action that can be implemented immediately, measured and improved?
- Will the outcome improve the innovation, ambition and desire to achieve — in an environment of collaboration — from the team?
If you answer “no” to any one of these (and heaven forbid all of them!), then you are planning or allowing an unproductive meeting that wastes exorbitant resources, time and people’s ability.
If “yes” is your answer to the three key questions, then make sure your meetings:
- Are rife with issue-critical data,
- Have only the key people present (and as few as possible),
- Only include people who will pay attention, participate, document and can make decisions,
- Are as short and precise (succinct) as possible,
- Are kept to a rigorous schedule,
- Are attended by people who have a burning-need to be there,
- Never rehash the same old … (be innovative!),
- Inspire, and
- End with everyone on the same page.
That’s it! Period.