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What a Mess — the Modern Meeting

Mamie Kanfer Stewart

Aug 21, 2016

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2 min read

You’re a meeting organizer. And you’ve got it all under control. The purpose of the meeting is clear in your mind. You know you want to discuss customer requests and do a fun brainstorming activity for a future social media campaign to share new feature releases. Sure, there’s been a lot of emails back and forth, but you’ve finally settled on a meeting time and sent out the meeting invite. The day of the meeting, you walk into the conference room and jump into the conversation. Your attention is on the material and you assume everyone is following you.

You’re a meeting participant. And you have to go to a lot of meetings. You just got another meeting invitation and the subject is broad and ambiguous: “Prioritization of customer requests.” You think you get the jist of the meeting but aren’t sure how to prepare — is there something you should review or reflect on ahead of time? You see the invite is for 60 minutes and feel a pang of resentment that it will be such a long meeting when you’ve got so much else on your plate. Begrudgingly, you accept the invite because you don’t feel you have a choice. A few days later, you head to the conference room, wondering if this will be a wasted hour.

Meeting organizers and meeting participants often have very different understandings and expectations of their meetings. This information imbalance can cause various problems among the team, such as:

  • confusion about the purpose of the meeting and what it’s supposed to achieve

  • frustration and decreased morale, feeling like time is being wasted

  • lack of appropriate preparation and unproductive conversation

  • sense of misalignment between team leaders and team members

This disconnect is rarely identified, but its effects are devastating in terms of lost time, money, energy, and engagement.

There is a simple, elegant solution that you can implement right now to address this disconnect: create a meeting agenda that follows best practices and share it with all meeting participants at least 24 hours in advance. A good agenda answers:

  • Why are we meeting — what is the desired outcome, what does success look like?

  • What will we do in the meeting — how will we spend our time, on what topics, in what order?

  • How can I prepare for productive conversation — what should I read/review, what should I think about?

Mostly likely, as a meeting organizer, you’re already doing much of this thinking in preparation for your upcoming meeting. Spending 5–10 minutes to add this information into the calendar invitation or using a system like Meeteor will help align all the meeting participants with your expectations. In the end, a few extra minutes up front will save much more time down the road and go a long way to help the meeting participants feel respected and prepared.

Ready to learn more meeting best practices? Visit the Meeteor Blog and follow us on Twitter @meeteorHQ.


Mamie Kanfer Stewart

Aug 21, 2016

|

2 min read

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