I read an article in Inc. magazine on how to have a productive meeting. For me, holding a productive meeting is not an issue. Rather, the problem is that I simply have too many meetings. Like many of you, my calendar is jam packed the entire day. Having lunch without an agenda is a distant memory.
I’ve always worked in organizations that prefer meetings to work through an issue. While this approach may be good for complex issues, it can also create a drag on the organization, resulting in too many meetings with too many attendees. How do you reduce the number of meetings? I chatted with some of my colleagues and have shared these thoughts below.
- Pick up the phone. Too many people rely on email to handle issues, which then escalate into a meeting request. Why not pick up the phone and chat with the individual who started the email chain? You’ll be surprised how quickly you can resolve most issues without holding a meeting.
- Who is accountable? We often include every possible stakeholder in the meeting. Identify who is ultimately accountable and speak directly with that individual about the situation first. Pitch your idea and if you get a positive response, then commit that you will move forward and report back on any major obstacles.
- Take advantage of staff meetings. Staff meetings are generally used for report outs. Our team uses these meetings for decision making only, saving a great deal of time on calendars.
- Require a description of the meeting before scheduling. With so many people trying to get on your calendar, you must be diligent before you take the meeting. Once you understand the request, you may be able to quickly resolve the meeting with a phone call. When contacted by a person outside your organization, make it clear you won’t consider a meeting until the individual sends you information, then provide your email address and end the conversation immediately. I don’t return phone calls from individuals who don’t provide their company name and a reason for calling.
- Prioritize your meetings. Tell someone she won’t get on your calendar for a month, and she will likely determine the issue is minor enough that it can be handled by email.
- Delegate the meeting. Once you understand the reason for the meeting request, you may be able to delegate it to one of your team members. You’ll soon realize that many meetings can happen without your presence (and some may even be more productive without you!)
Speak loudly, step boldly!
Image courtesy of David WallJune 12th, 2014 10:00am Beth Bierbower productivity