16 November 2010
If your meetings are compelling, useful and effective, don’t read this blog post
Meetings often don’t start on time and don’t end on time. Very often it is unclear what is decided. Action points are not followed up. The meeting is dominated by just a few people (the loudest, not the smartest). We often tend to start discussions without a clue of what the goal of the agenda point is, and there are quite a few meetings that don’t have an agenda at all.
I have asked this question time and time again, to employees in a wide variety of businesses: “How much time do you spend in meetings?” The average number, for office workers, is 30%. Then, when I ask them if they received any training in meeting skills, the usual answer is: none at all; in college, nor at work.
So, we spend 30% of our time doing something that we were never trained to do. This fact never fails to amaze me, and I think it is a hidden problem in many organizations. In my opinion, we internal communicators should tackle this problem. For years now I have been conducting meeting workshops, and people love them. I teach them how to prepare a meeting, how to ensure that everybody can contribute, techniques to keep time and techniques to ensure that the meeting members stick to the goal of the agendapoint. I add some background about group dynamics and I stress the importance of following up on what was decided. Basic stuff, but everybody loves it.
For me, in my role as manager internal communications, this is probably one of the best contributions I can make to improve efficiency in our organization. People often tell me that they saved hours and hours of time as a result of the workshop.
This could be a Dutch problem, though, as we are consensus seekers by nature. I am curious about that: is it? Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and experiences with me.