Raise your hand if you love going to meetings! It seems like once you reach a certain level of management, meetings become a way of life. I know people who thrive on it; unfortunately, I’m not one of them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that all meetings are a waste of time, I’m only saying that a lot of them are – there have been times in my career when I’ve literally had 12 hours of meetings trying to shoehorn themselves into an 8-hour day.
There are plenty of books and guides on how to run a meeting; I’m not going to do that. Rather, I’m going to talk about what I expect if you’re trying to schedule a meeting with me. I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.
For me, there’s really four things that I want:
1. Respect my time
Don’t assume I’m available. Too often people scheduling meetings with me seem to think that their meeting is the most important thing to do in a given time slot. As a result, they pay no attention to my calendar, and plop their meeting into a time slot that’s already filled with another meeting. Now I have to figure out which meeting is most critical and really needs my attention. Which leads to my next expectation.
2. What is the meeting about?
I really want to know the subject of the meeting. The initial description should be clear; I should be able to understand at a glance what the meeting will focus on. There should be at least a rudimentary agenda attached, to enable us to maximize the value of our time. Have a goal – tell me what you want to take away at the end of the meeting.
3. Why am I here?
Not only do I want to understand what the meeting is about, I want to know why I need to be there. Many times I seem to be included on calls just because my job description appears to have some vague relationship with the meeting topic. Then I end up losing that time while I try to figure out how or what I can contribute. So let me know ahead of time why I’m supposed to be there – and this is especially important if you’ve scheduled it in conflict with another meeting on my calendar.
4. Control your meeting.
Finally, once you get started, keep your meeting under control. Keep it focused on the goal you’ve identified in #2 above. Have all your ducks in a row prior to beginning – if you need a teleconference number, have it ready; if you need to do a web-based presentation, know that system and have it up and running prior to the meeting. Expect that there’s going to be technical glitches, and work them out prior to getting us all together. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been left hanging on a conference call because someone could not figure out the web conferencing software.
Once you reach a management level, attending poorly scheduled, badly managed, or uncontrolled meetings is an enormous waste of time and talent. If there are a number of other management-level people attending, the costs get even higher. I don’t think it’s asking too much to simply be prepared and respect my time.
What about you? What are your pet peeves about meetings?