Article #1,589,367 about Meetings (this Year)

Doug Isabell - Director of Marketing


June 2014 – Let me start this off by saying that I love meetings. I love meetings that are useful, generate new ideas, and have successful outcomes. I love meetings that help our clients grow their businesses. Bottom line, I love meetings that are productive. I have been working for the entirety of my adult life (if we include my paper route that’s over twenty years…ouch), and years in the ‘corporate’ world. I think I have been a part of some of the least successful meetings ever created by man or womankind. One of my most favorite from several eons and one time zone ago is one of my fondest ‘worthless meeting memories’. I was on conference call waiting for a co-worker to hop on who ‘worked from home’, and I was listening to some beautiful GoTo Meeting music for upwards of 35-minutes for that “meeting that can NOT be missed”. Without even a courtesy email or text saying from my beloved co-worker saying, “Sorry I am late! I will be on in 5 minutes! You’re the best and sorry for wasting your time! I am in a more important meeting with more important people at this juncture, so you will just have to wait!” That’s all they really need to say, but it never came. I just needed a status in any context whatsoever as to why this extremely important meeting is not being held at its extremely important proposed time that I accepted in my Outlook calendar. Please be honest as you want and/or need to be and just tell me why I am sitting at my desk after 30-minutes by my lonesome, about to Shazam the elevator music that I am awkwardly really starting to like streaming out of my speaker phone to see who the artist is. Really, that’s all I needed…any reason for an extended courtesy was all that was required, but it was all for not. So let’s get to the point.

In recent years, it seems that creating lists are the best way to go about pounding important points into the abyss of the internet, so I am jumping on the ‘list’ bandwagon with these Top 10 beauties below, that will blow your doors off for reaching what everyone strives for; ‘Meeting Nirvana’. You are very lucky today because you will never have an unproductive meeting again, and might not even need to have another meeting again (we all can wish right?). READ this list. USE this list. Print it out, shout it from the rooftops, rent an air balloon or an airplane and sprinkle millions of copies of this article and spread this meeting propaganda to all of human kind below. It is nothing you have never heard before, so make this ‘How to List for Productive Meetings’ the last ‘How to List for Productive Meetings’ you will ever have to read and just plain use it every day:

  1. First and foremost, really think of the people invited to the meeting…do they need to be there? Is this something they really have to attend? Or rather, can I acquire the information that I need, and then accurately give the action required in summary to others so that the project will come to a successful conclusion? If not, that co-worker or client should probably be invited.
  2. Secondly, make sure the people that are required to attend actually accept the meeting invitation. There is nothing worse than scheduling a meeting in a conference room assuming the required attendees accepted the invitation without checking first. I have had several times where I have invited and been the inviter and have sat for a long while at a lonely table, or a phone that is blinking.
  3. Exchange pleasantries and get to work! – I have talked about planned summer vacations or baby’s first words for up to 30 minutes to start meetings. Let’s kibitz after hours if you really like talking to me that much. Call me any time to shoot the breeze when I am not at work…right? You have my cell number, so call me any time after I get my kids in bed after 8:00PM. I would love to hear about that guy that took your parking spot at the mall! I am serious; I would love to hear from you!
  4. The fourth point is important…we are all humans, things happen and we we’re all busy. When I expect I’ll be late, I make it a point to let the attendees know that I’m behind schedule… we’ve all been there. Let people know when you’re delayed….seems fair enough, right?
  5. On time isn’t ready to meet; if there is technology required for the meeting to come to a successful launch (i.e. the dreaded projector, or wireless/Bluetooth anything) show up early and fight the good fight with the technology gods. Don’t have five co-workers sitting around watching for 15-minutes while the meeting initiator is trying to connect to Google Chromecast (unfortunately this has been my forte as of late, and as a side note, when will Google actually come out with the ‘sharing your entire screen’ functionality out of beta so it actually works? I digress…).
  6. Have a clear agenda that is obvious and include it in the initial meeting invitation and don’t stray from it; this should be a no brainer if you are properly prepared prior to the meeting. This comes with taking the time to be prepared and with simple organization and dissemination of information you know you have, and knowing what information you need from the attendees around you or on the other end of a call. Mind bending isn’t it?
  7. Communicate effectively and efficiently – steps have been put in place for millennia on how a meeting should be productive. If there is a great agenda, but communication is ineffective, it is a major time-waster.  Another brain buster!
  8. If the information required to run the meeting smoothly, effectively, and end in a timely fashion, with clear outcomes and action items for the participants are not in place, cancel the meeting and reschedule when this preparation is complete. It’s okay! Trust me the people involved will appreciate it, just so they aren’t asking the same questions they asked you in the last meeting!
  9. Simply just get to the point. As my boss said, if the meeting is scheduled for 45 minutes there isn’t 45 minutes of material to cover, why make the meeting last 45 minutes?  Don’t waste your co-worker’s or your client’s time. Twenty to thirty-minute meetings are the meeting god’s gift to you that do not come around very often. Embrace them, hug them, and don’t let them go.
  10. My final point, take a stand and speak up! If the meeting that you participate in your daily life is scheduled by you or others and does not ever remotely starts on time, has no clear and defined agenda with clear and concise action items at its conclusion, I feel your pain and I feel very, very sorry for you. Let others know how you feel; it works wonders!

As mentioned in the title this is officially the 1,589,367th article written about the subject of meetings in 2014. It has to be right? The endless LinkedIn articles we all receive in our inboxes on a daily basis are force fed to us every morning, addressing productivity in the workplace, or rather the lack thereof, need to end. Starting today, after reading this article, all LinkedIn subject matter will address the most productive meetings ever carried out in human history. I want to read about them all, and it can all start TODAY. Very soon you will be saying, “I had the most productive meeting today because of that one guy at COACT who wrote that one article that I read back in that one month in 2014, and I actually applied the points in that stupid list he put together, and it worked!” May this be the last ‘anything’ you ever read addressing meetings. The time to act is now! FREE YOUR MIND of angst over wasted time and step up to that proverbial ‘meeting plate’, swing for the fences, and knock that meeting scheduled for tomorrow out of the park! We only have so much time on this earth people, so let’s “get ‘er” done!

Questions? Please contact Doug Isabell at disabell@teamCOACT.com