How to make meetings work

How to make meetings work

Do you hate meetings? Do you feel most of them are a waste of your time? Well, join the club! According to Rick Gilbert, executive coach and author,...

Do you hate meetings? Do you feel most of them are a waste of your time? Well, join the club! According to Rick Gilbert, executive coach and author, most executives consider more than two-thirds (67 percent) of meetings to be failures. In his book "Achieving Effective Meetings � Not Easy But Possible", Bradford D. Smart does a survey of 635 executives wherein 83% of them said that most meetings drifted off the subject, 77% said that participants come in with poor preparation, over 68% says there is lack of proper listening at meetings and almost 60% say that meetings go on for too long, and hence create very little participation. In fact, meetings are known as a joke to do something when one is bored and wants to talk about something to colleagues. Most executives groan when a meeting is announced! However, meetings are extremely important in an organization. It is the place where ideas as exchanged and information is passed on. No one can define the importance and essentiality of a meeting better than Dr. Peter Ducker who says that "we meet because people holding different jobs have to cooperate to get a specific task done. We meet because the knowledge and experience needed in a specific situation are not available in one head, but have to be pieced together out of the knowledge and experience of several people." Thus meetings are essential. In fact, every day almost 83 million people attend 11.5 million meetings. That is a lot of valuable time. As one rises in hierarchy, one spends much more time in meetings. In American dollars, the average CEO is paid $12 to $13 million, that's $6,000 an hour. Imagine having more than one high-level executive at that boring meeting and the failure becomes so much more expensive. So, it is important for organizations and individuals to follow certain trends and processes before meetings to make them work. "The 7RE approach" will help make meetings work more effectively.
RE 1: Required? � This is the 1st step in just asking self if this meeting is really required. The questions to ask here include: is the meeting necessary? Can we manage with just a phone call or an email? What is the purpose of the meeting? Is the timing right for the meeting? What will happen if I do not call for this meeting? Are there any alternatives? RE 2: Readiness? � This is about how ready one is for the meeting. Do we know the end result expected of it? Who are all the people needed at the meeting? What kind of an environment, room set-up do we need? Are there any travel and costs implications for it? What is the technological support needed if someone has to join in through call or videoconference? When is the meeting going to be held � time and place? Where is the meeting being held? What is the information I need in hand to get the expected results out of this meeting? RE 3: Restraints? � This talks about the various limitations or restraints for conducting this meeting. Are there time limitations for people? Are there cash constraints? Are there any other meetings planned that may clash for the same participants? These are some of the questions one needs to answer before getting the meeting announced. RE 4: Record? � Maintaining a record of the meeting is an essential factor for evaluating its success at a later stage. This is simply called MOM or Minutes of Meeting in most corporate organization. However, this simple document carries a lot of information, including who attended the meeting, what decisions were agreed upon, what action items were taken on by whom, any open items remaining, topic and time and place for the next meeting, who will attend the next meeting, etc, and is the reference document for any discrepancies in understanding at a later stage. RE 5: Regulate? � Regulating a meeting is all about leading, facilitating, managing and controlling the flow of the meeting. It is about balancing control and participation from the attendees so as to give everyone a chance to speak while also staying focused on the purpose and agenda. Various facilitation techniques, such as opinion seeking, encouraging, checking for decisions, summarizing, terminating, gate keeping, etc, are ways to handles this stage of the meeting while it is in progress. RE 6: Review? � Every meeting needs to be periodically reviewed to confirm everything that has been said. At the end of every meeting, always spend a few minutes to summarize the key points, the agreed-upon action items and deadlines, as well as the next meeting topics and details. RE 7: Results? Results of the meeting ultimately need to be achieved for it to be successful. Also, how effectively the meeting was held is an essential feedback that needs to be taken in at this stage. To ensure that the minutes are distributed within a day is a part of the closure for achieving the results. Also, the action items need to be followed up by the facilitator after the meeting to ensure that the action is carried out. However, a lot of meetings in organizations today are spontaneous. Even then, it helps to pause for 5 minutes and reflect on the 7REs and see where one stands on them, before one enters the meeting room. When GM Consultants from Pittsburgh did their research, it showed that 88% of the meetings can be made effective by simply allowing all attendees to participate; 68% of them just need a purpose defined while just recording the discussion properly would make almost 50% of them more effective. Well-conducted and facilitated meetings are essential for proper decision-making and implementing strategies. Follow the 7 Res... Make meetings work! You have the power! Revathi Turaga is an International Trainer and Inspirational Speaker. She can be reached at
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