The problem is that the more unnecessary meetings you have, the more easy it is to feel overwhelmed by the wasted time you know it’s taking away from you and all you have to achieve…and…it’s also easy to feel underwhelmed by yet another discussion that may or may not achieve something and that may well take too long to achieve too little with little to no action taken.
A study done by business software company Atlassian found that…
90% of people admitted to daydreaming during meetings
73% did other work in meetings
47% felt that meetings were the number one time waster at the office
Atlassian estimates that the salary cost of unnecessary meetings for U.S. business is $37 billion!
So, the risk is that the longer this goes on in your working life, the easier it is to suffer from Meetingitis. And this increasingly reduces the impact you can have in your business life and for your business.
The symptoms are:
Bouts of confusion about who’s meant to be saying and doing what and where and when and for how long
Lack of focus
Decreased desire to communicate compellingly, colorfully and convincingly
Increased pen fiddling…and possible doodling
Secret checking of emails and text messages and even social media when you think nobody’s looking
Looking out of the windows or, if there are none, any passing people just so you can keep connected with a world where people seem to be getting on with something a lot more useful than you are
Feeling like your “batteries have been taken out”
Rapid ageing – and not flatteringly
A desire to become a gardener somewhere quiet and bucolic
Now, you can allow yourself to be sucked into this mental mire, experiencing the ineffective (in the ramshackle way so many meetings are called for unnecessarily and then badly managed), experiencing indifference (to who says what, when and why) and then the invariable inaction (noises and even declarations are made…but nothing much if anything is then done, let alone subsequently achieved).
You can have the sort of impact at meetings (and afterwards) that achieves results the vast majority of others don’t achieve.
Apply these 3 simple (very boiled down!) steps before and during any meeting – whether external or internal – to make sure you have the impact you want at the meetings – that’s IF you decide they’re worth being at:
Clarity: Ask yourself this – irrespective of what anyone says about the meeting and why it should happen and why you should be there: What’s the single most important outcome of the proposed meeting? There may be several intended and talked about things that people want to achieve – or say they do – but what’s the most important in terms of what your business, or part thereof, need to do right now? When you’ve done this – honestly, objectively and accurately – then ask yourself: do you need to be there?
That’s right. Just because someone calls for a meeting that they think should involve you, doesn’t mean you should be there. How many meetings have you endured while discovering that you didn’t need to be there much if at all? Probably more than you’d care to recall!
Now, I understand that it’s going to be tricky if it’s your boss and/or a client or a potential client that’s making that call. In this situation, then you can suggest an alternative…like a phone call or a video Skype chat or even an email clarification. Clarity helps give you greater professional precision in the way you work.
Choreography: The way you enter a meeting can instinctively inspire the respect or the disrespect of those there – even if you already know each other. If you walk in apologetically or awkwardly – no matter how senior or important you’re meant to be – then this will undermine you. But, if you walk in assuredly, then this can engender more respect.
So conjure up an image of you walking into a meeting with an air of warmly positive purpose…and then an image of the way those there take respectful notice of this.
If the table you’re talking around isn’t round then position yourself in a place of greater power, namely in the centre – due to the Centre Stage effect which, very simply, helps give you a more powerful perception in other’s eyes – or, if business politics and position allow, at the head of a table (ideally the one at the opposite end from where any TV or other screen is so you don’t have to turn your back to look at it when it’s used).
Communication: This is a huge area and I could write volumes on this! So, in the spirit of keep it easily accessible, easily applicable and easily achievable, I’m going to give you my 6 Business Communication Commandments…so, when you do speak, you do so with:
Conviction: Speak with genuine passion and purpose without telling people you are!
Colour: Add great stories and concise colourful case studies to reinforce what you want to communicate
Clarity: Be clear on what your audience wants – and what you want – from your meeting...and therefore have a clear message
Coherence: Use your voice well by adding varying the volume, pitch and tone
Conciseness: Keep it uncluttered and concise as, in meetings, less really is more
Comedy: If appropriate, use levity and light-heartedness to entertain and charm your audience
So, if that meeting for “information gathering” (always a worry, this one, as it’s often a licence to be officially lazy…where the more everyone seems to talk the less they seem to action afterwards) or a call to generally discuss this or that appears…
Get Clarity before you commit to any meeting about whether or not you should be there and, if you do, use Choreography to put you in the right place both practically and psychologically to help you then Communicate more effectively using The 6 Business Communication Commandments so…
You have the impact you want to help you really do achieve what you AND your business REALLY needs…and not what yet another pointless business meeting would otherwise fail to achieve.