Do I need to be at that meeting?

Given all the virtual meetings taking place, I looked at a prior post about meetings to see if anything changed. Not a lot! Even in the world of virtual meetings, the following still apply…

  1. Meetings allow people to delay decisions. Meetings are called partially to replace truly focusing ‘yourself’ on what you need to do.

Virtual “Add-on” — There are various ‘chat’ functions that can take the place of a scheduled virtual meeting. Make virtual meetings begin and end on time (they almost always have to) and start/stop 15 minutes before/after (e.g., 10:15–10:45) to accommodate any major use of bandwidth for when many meetings start on the hour. 

  1. Meetings can be time–wasters. People call 30-minute meetings for things that can be decided in five minutes. One of the main factors contributing to the meeting time-dump is inefficiency and lack of thoughtful planning; many people who call a meeting don’t have a clear agenda or objective.

Virtual “Add-on”— even more of an issue with virtual meetings

  1. Most meetings cost too much—all the time you spend to structure and schedule a meeting could be spent truly evaluating what you really need to make a decision—even if it is to gain greater feedback via a meeting. Enough said.

Virtual “Add-on”—ditto.

People tend to look at a meeting as a solution to not exactly knowing how to move forward. As a result, they don’t prepare for a meeting correctly—they put a quick agenda together, walk in and hope the solution will show itself. But, that rarely works.

I’ve found that a small checklist can make a big difference:

 Start with a 30-minute meeting

By starting with only 30 minutes of peoples’ times — it keeps you focused on ensuring your meeting is targeted to the task at hand.

 What is the one thing I [my team] need out of this meeting

Write down what the real need is — do you need to give people an update, do you need to discuss something?  Be very clear about the objectives when more than 2 people are brought together.  

 Determine who needs to be there

Based on what you need out of it — who needs to come?  For a half hour meeting, you [likely] only need a few people.  If you call a meeting for only those that absolutely should be there, you demonstrate that you value and respect their time and people will appreciate it.

Send a “Coming Soon” note about the meeting

Let ‘invitees’ know before-hand about the meeting and that you will send an invitation (i.e., give them ‘warning’). I hate getting invitations for meetings when I haven’t been informed first that something needs to be decided.  

Develop agenda (around the actual objective of the meeting), and circulate

Remember to send any topline summaries, or short backgrounds ahead of time so people don’t have to use meeting time for that.  And make sure that background information is very brief.  Develop a very targeted agenda — ensuring that the time matches and make adjusts if need-be.  I have ended meetings early because the objective was met early. Then let people go. 

 Remember logistics!

Once you have your agenda and meeting time, you need to do the logistics – space, teleconference numbers, invitations.  

 Reminders! 

Finally, send the materials out about a week before the meeting, gently reminding them of the meeting.  Also send a quick note the day before to remind people.



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