January 30, 2013, 1:23 PM
How Not To Suck At Meetings
“Oh, and remember: next Friday… is Hawaiian shirt day. So, you know, if you want to, go ahead and wear a Hawaiian shirt and jeans.” – Bill Lumburgh
This is another one of those “really? I seriously need to write this?” blog entries. Because I look at this, you will look at this, and think “Umm, Bob, isn’t this common sense stuff?”, but you would be surprised these days.
I’ve seen these written before, I’ve read books called “Read this before your next meeting”, but in all honesty, I like things packaged quick and easy, so I thought I would write this for you to pass around without having someone read a 300 page book…
In the day and age of CONTENT everywhere, it seems as if everyone these days is ADD. Face to face meetings, in my opinion, are the last bastion of business. So my gift to you, is how not to suck at meetings.
1. TURN YOUR #^&#*@‘ING PHONE OFF. You will be OK if you don’t see that text from Susie for another 45 minutes. You will be fine if you don’t see the last 30 minutes from your Twitter feed. You don’t need to keep re-freshing Reddit, hoping someone upvoted your dim-witted comment on a cat picture. You can pass level 37 of Angry Birds Star Wars later.
2. DON’T BRING YOUR LAPTOP. Don’t. Seriously. It will be OK. You don’t need to respond to that email now. You will be fine. They will be fine. There is nothing more rude/obnoxious in the business world than hosting a meeting, delivering decent content, and then looking at the crowd, seeing 50% of them are typing away. They accomplished nothing more than acting like they are more important than you.
3. HAVE AN AGENDA. STICK TO IT. There is nothing worse than wasting people’s time just because you wanted to have a meeting. Make sure there is a point to it. Make sure you have a concise outline. Stick to it. If someone starts to talk out of order, reel them back in, say we will get to that in “Item 6” and move on. This if nothing else, shows organization and respect for those involved.
4. KEEP IT SHORT AND SWEET. There is nothing worse than a 2+ hour meeting where half of it was spent talking about the last Lizard Lick Towing episode. Keep the meeting relevant, on topic, and respect your audience’s time. I’ve been known to crack a one-liner now and then, but for the most part, keep the meeting tight and try not to deviate.
5. PRETEND LIKE YOU ARE PAYING ATTENTION. Bring in a notepad, look everyone in the eye that is talking. Even if you are hearing Charlie Brown’s teacher (see: wah wahh wahhhh), you are still showing respect. Take notes, even if you will never look at them again, you might actually remember something and be a contributor to your team.
6. DON’T ASK A QUESTION JUST BECAUSE YOU WANT TO ANNOUNCE THAT YOU ARE THERE. We all know this guy. He will ask a question on every national team call. Every webinar. Every training module. Every lunch and learn. Every project update meeting. Just because he wants everyone, err management, to know he is paying attention, he is there , and he is interested in whatever it is going on. You are being a brown-noser, knock it off.
7. CREATE ACTIONS ITEMS AND FOLLOW UP. So the meeting’s over. Now what? Make sure you have at least five action items. Make sure you thank everyone for coming to the meeting (if you are the organizer). Make sure you follow-up on everything you talked about. Make sure you assign tasks to those in the meeting (if necessary). Make sure the time you spent was productive.
I think that covers it, if you have any other ideas, let us know!
And go read something else!