How many meetings do you have at work where you leave thinking ‘what a complete waste of time and effort’?
If the answer is ‘a lot’ or ‘most of them’ then you really must read Al Pittampalli’s excellent new book ‘Read This Before Our Next Meeting‘.
Describing Microsoft Office email Appointments as ‘weapons of mass interruption’, Al hits the nail on the head when he says that it’s far too easy for people to call team meetings with little care or thought for the impact they might have on the recipients that have to sit through ‘another bad meeting’.
Furthermore, he points out how meetings have become stalling tactics and havens for complacency and collective indecision in too many organisations around the world. Too many meetings with too many people (or the wrong ones) leads to inaction, compromise and mediocrity. ‘Less talk, more action’ should be the new mantra.
Some of the key themes and ideas I took from the book which I will be trying to implement in future include;
- Thinking really, really carefully before calling a meeting and who you should invite. (Sounds obvious but is a very important point to make).
- Taking your time to circulate reading materials before the meeting and INSISTING that all attendees read them beforehand. If they turn up for the meeting without reading, then you are perfectly within your rights to ask them to leave. Time is precious and you certainly don’t have time to go through the background info at the beginning. These types of ‘informaional meetings’ are a big waste of your and everyone else’s time.
- Simply turning up for a meeting isn’t enough. All attendees should be expected to ‘turn up’ in mind and spirit and contribute something to the meeting. Make it clear that they must add some value to proceedings (asking questions, sharing insight, offering to take on tasks) otherwise they aren’t welcome or necessary and won’t be invited to future meetings.
- Make sure that all meetings have a clear purpose, clear objective(s) and end on time. Put a big visual countdown timer on display so people know that you mean business.
- Ensure that someone makes good and proper notes from the meeting which are circulated soon after with clear action points for all attendees. I would actually suggest that if it’s important, the person calling the meeting should also take their own notes and follow things up personally. Ideally, all attendees should be making their own notes too and taking responsibility for actions in the actual meeting (far too many do neither and then can’t remember what was agreed to).
Like all Domino Project titles, this highly useful book is deliberately fast-paced and designed to be read in around 1hr (I read mine via Kindle App on my Windows Phone on the bus journey home from work).
So, if you’re sick of feeling like your time is being wasted by pointless meetings or are simply looking for ways to improve your professional capacity and productivity at work, then I highly recommend you grab hold of a copy. Even better if you can share it with your colleagues too so they can understand where you are coming from.
Perhaps you could even hold a ‘Modern Meeting’ to discuss how to roll them out across the organisation?