Many people dread meetings for being time consuming, pointless, and boring.
The primary reason for meetings is to share or brainstorm information or to develop action steps toward accomplishing a goal. Period. But if this were the result of most corporate meetings, people wouldn't moan and groan when they learn that another meeting is going to be held. From our experience facilitating and attending meetings, we've found that bad meetings have similar traits regardless of the industry, company, or project:
Poor meetings lead to poor project results
Most meetings create at least one unwanted result, such asmore meetings, frustrated participants, or unclear expectations. All of these lead to poor performance or no performance at all. People aren't converting decisions into action because often no decisions were made or articulated. Culture plays a part in how meetings are perceived, too. For example, Americans consider meetings a place where decisions are made; in contrast, the French use meetings to share ideas, allowing the decision makers to review their newly gathered information and come to a decision.
Signs of bad meetings are participants arriving late, leaving early, unnecessarily attending by phone, not participating when at the meeting, canceling altogether, spending hours and hours in a meeting, or leaving without a clear idea of why the meeting was held and what the outcome was.
The long-term results of poor meetings are more damaging. Low morale, ineffective time management, high project turnover rate, unavailable employees, and zero headway will doom a project and frustrate participants, leading to wasted company funds and talent.
Facilitators turn poor meetings into productive worksessions
Have someone facilitate your meetings. Yes, it must besomeone who knows the essentials of good facilitation -- or your meetings still won't improve -- but it's well worth the investment. Here are some thoughts that every facilitator should keep in mind when preparing for, running, and following up on a meeting:
Jamie Walters is the founder and Chief Vision & Strategy Officer at Ivy Sea, Inc. in San Francisco, CA. Coauthor Sarah Fenson is Ivy Sea's Guide to Client Services.
This information provides food for thought rather than counsel specifically designed to meet the needs of your organization or situation. Please use it mindfully. The most effective communication plan should be tailored to your unique needs, so don't hesitate to get individualized assistance from a communication expert.