Meetings, this scourge

Meetings, this scourge

I enjoy work meetings. I find them essential for improving strategies, redirecting focus and purpose, setting goals and reinforcing team building and collaboration. I relish meeting up with my colleagues and brainstorming together for a unified aim, supporting each other in reaching a set goal while inspiring or motivating each other. 

But let us be honest here; how many daily, weekly, or monthly meetings could have just been an email? How many of us have sat through hour over hour just nodding unconsciously, experiencing tremendous amounts of boredom while fighting to keep our eyes open? We all have walked into meetings with high expectations and positive energy, only to eventually feel disappointed, fatigued and irritated. 

I believe that time is a precious thing, for it is limited. As with every valued thing in our lives, if it is stolen from us or is terribly misused by someone, we get frustrated, defensive and reluctant to offer it again. We get suspicious and predisposed to a negative attitude.

Meetings require a part of our precious time, our presence and energy. None appreciates unorganised and, therefore, tedious gatherings. It sounds odd when you have experienced the opposite, but meetings can be fruitful, meaningful, inspiring, rewarding and enjoyable, for there are ways to make them so.

Meeting agreements

Meeting agreements guarantee that everyone is treated equally and fairly during the meetings; that everyone is heard. They are tailored to a specific group and should be often revised. At the start of every session, the meeting agreements should be reminded to the team. This can happen orally or visually by hanging a copy of them on an area visible to everyone. Refer to these agreements once you see that they are encroached by a team member.

Meeting agenda

All meeting attendees should have the meeting’s agenda two or three days before the meeting. Not only the organiser. A successful agenda states the topics for discussion and each point’s start and ending time. This way, we ensure sufficient time for each subject according to their significance and avoid ongoing conversations on one topic and time mismanagement.

Prepare the room

A vital point of a successful meeting is the environment. The room accommodating the meeting has to be ready before the team’s arrival. The chairs and tables are set, the projector is working, the whiteboard is in place, pens/markers/post-it notes are well distributed and arranged on the table(s), and copies are already printed and ready for use. The timer is on a visible surface, refreshments or snacks ready etc. The room preparation is of utmost importance for creating a welcoming atmosphere.

Prioritise the meeting’s points

The agenda of the meeting should clearly state the status of each meeting point. Not all topics are for discussion or decision; some are just informative. The discussion items require the active participation of the whole team, where members are asked to offer their expertise and ideas on how to approach/resolute an issue. The decision items ask the team members to use specific decision-making methods (ex., voting, consensus). The informative items do not seek the team’s involvement; they are there to inform and only the team members on certain decisions; they are statements.

Define roles

The meeting agenda should clearly state everyone’s role in the meeting. Especially when it comes to sharing and analysing data, collecting data, making a presentation, bringing a case study to the table, etc., there should be no confusion about every member’s role. Therefore it should be in the teams’ hands a couple of days before the meeting to allow time for preparation.

Meeting minutes

A member has the role of keeping the minutes and ensuring to later share them with the rest of the team. Meeting minutes are essential for maintaining a record of agreements and action plans to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts, keep everyone on track and promote result-oriented processes.

Despite most of us dreading the term meeting every time we hear it, it is surprising how meetings can actually be pleasant-yes, you heard well- and time-worthy. It is also surprising how easily one can plan worthwhile meetings bearing in mind the above principles and staying organised. Cheers to beautiful meetings.

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