Meetings- another chance to warm a seat!
OK here is the scenario, you are busy, lots on, you’re invited to a meeting, you have no idea what it is about, you do not know who is going to be there, but for some reason you know you will be expected to be there. Joy.
So you go along, you take a seat, the meeting starts, people have a bit of a chat about the footie last night, then a bit of banter goes around, ten minutes have passed, then some one needs the loo and finally things get under way. As time passes you have not been asked to contribute, you have not felt the need to contribute and even you could, are you supposed to? Even more time passes and you are wondering how much longer you have will have to sit through this, your mind starts to wander to what you might be having for supper tonight, then some thoughts on that stunning jacket you have seen in the window of your favourite shop. Your bum starts to get numb so you have a little fidget, get distracted by the long thread on your shirt you have been meaning to cut off, you start to measure it through your fingers, try to erode it off with some subtle but vigorous pulling, and there you are. Free, hurrah, it wasn’t such a waste of time coming after all. Around you people look glassy eyed, no, no one has any questions thanks, and then after about 45minutes you are released back into the wild.
How many meetings have you been invited to where you are compelled to go but have no idea why? How many times have you found yourself wondering why your are there? How many times have you heard the same things going around again and again? How many times have you had to work late through having to attend a pointless meeting? How much of your working day/week/month/year is made up of pointless never ending, back to back meetings?
Well during any time management training, quite often delegates ask me how to manage meetings better, and if I am honest, there are some meeting you can control but often meetings are imposed on you and it is up to you to be brave and follow some simple yet assertive actions.
- Never accept a meeting invite if there is no agenda.
- Ask whether you need to be in attendance for all of the meeting or can you get away with being there for a specific part.
- Ask what contribution you will be expected to make during the meeting.
- Ask how long the meeting is expected to last.
- Try to establish as politely as possible why you need to be in attendance, it could be that a colleague could attend and pass back the relevant information to you after.
- If no agenda is provided, politely establish what will be covered, by whom and what the outcome will be.
- Whilst in a meeting, if things go off track, politely steer the conversation back to the subject.
- During the meeting ask questions to keep energy up and to keep things pacey.
- If the meeting over runs, then make your excuses and leave, there is nothing more annoying that being asked to attend a 30minute meeting and still being there after an hour.
When it comes to meetings, as with your time management, be ruthless with your time and be gracious with people.