If you work in a large corporation, company meetings are likely to rank right up there with filing your taxes as “Activities I’d Rather Die Than Do.” Unless you are the president of the company or a majority shareholder, you likely have no interest in what your company does, how it does it, or how well it does it. Company meetings hold little value in your world. All you are concerned about is making sure your paycheck arrives each week, and that they don’t make any cutbacks that would necessitate going with cheaper coffee for the break room. Beyond that, it’s all gibberish.
If you work at a smaller company, or hold a position a little higher up on the food chain, company meetings might not be quite so terrible, yet still aren’t likely something you get excited about when planning your week. Below are a few helpful tips to make sure your next meeting isn’t something to dread, and maybe even something to enjoy.
DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF JAVA. No, I’m not talking about Java Script. I’m talking about good, ol’ fashioned java coffee beans. These days employees in businesses of all sizes have one thing in common: they are overworked. The last thing someone wants to do is add another meeting to their already maxed-out Outlook calendar. Yet, sometimes meetings are unavoidable. Whether you are the organizer of the meeting, or simply an attendee, make sure to grab a cup of coffee, green tea, or power smoothie before heading in through those double glass doors. A simple boost in your energy level will keep you from falling victim to low blood sugar and losing your audience, or losing your patience when Tim from accounting delivers the exact same presentation from last month on the importance of timely account accruals.
LIMIT YOUR INVITEES. Do you really need to invite the entire development team to your meeting? (Or Tim from Accounting?) How about the Global Infrastructure Team, who can only meet at the ungodly hour of 5AM due to their remote time zone? Just because someone attended a meeting in a past doesn’t give them carte blanche authority to come to every team meeting each week. Go through your list of invitees, and pluck out those who are not one hundred percent crucial to the topic you are discussing at your meeting. Less people=greater chance at meeting efficiency.
HAVE A PLAN. There are thousands upon thousands of books written about how to run a proper meeting. Yet, how often have you attended a meeting where the presenter stood blankly at the front of the room, guessing at what they should do next while everyone else scrolled through their Twitter feeds, or day-traded stocks on their cell phones? There is no excuse for not having a meeting plan. It doesn’t necessarily need to be as complex as a Steve Jobs presentation, but a general idea of the topics being discussed, the order of operations, and a specific amount of time allotted for each presenter will keep things running much more smoothly. Speaking of which…
HAVE A TIMEKEEPER. If you have multiple presenters and multiple topics, often your meetings will run over time. This is unacceptable, and a primary reason people don’t want to attend meetings in the first place. (If we wanted meetings with no end, we would’ve ran for Congress.) If you aren’t comfortable telling a presenter who is only on slide number three out of one hundred and twenty that their time is up, have someone with a much stronger personality be the timekeeper, or download a clip of the music they use to get long-winded celebrities off the stage at the Academy Awards.
REMEMBER, EVERYONE IS A VICTIM. Many times people will have meetings for no reason other than it is expected (or they feel it will help them keep their job). While this can be a drag on your previously scheduled day of surfing the web, you can go a long way towards changing your outlook about an upcoming meeting you might be dreading by considering the reason it is being held in the first place: presumably, to create a positive change in the world. From tiny meetings to discuss a detail in a contract, to large town halls to present a company’s quarterly earnings, meetings are designed to share and discuss information related to a specific topic. Without meetings, life would not move forward.
If you are a meeting attendee, put yourself in the shoes of the presenter, and consider the difficult job they might have in sharing their information. Try to help by paying attention, asking appropriate questions to move the meeting along, and treating the presenter with respect by staying off your cell phone while they are talking. If you are a presenter, try to keep in mind that your topic is likely to be one of many your meeting attendees will be exposed over the course of their work week. Keep your presentation short, simple, and relevant to their needs. And be sure to hand out candy at the end of your presentation. It worked in kindergarten, and it will certainly work for your Monday sales meeting.
Meetings don’t need to be something to dread. With a little advanced planning, they can be quick, fun, run on time, and even be something to look forward to each week.
About the Author
Jeff Michaels is an author, blogger and creator of The Please Hug Me Series, providing helpful yet humorous advice for life’s most trying situations. His work has been featured on NPR, Chicago Tribune, and MORE Magazine for women. His new book Please Hug Me—I’m an Office Monkey: The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need to Survive Life in a Cubicle is available on Amazon.com. To download a sample and for more helpful tips visit: www.pleasehugmeseries.com.
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