Do you hate meetings?
Really? You hate getting away from your desk to spend time with real humans? You hate the opportunity to get multiple perspectives on an issue and make a decision on the spot, together? You hate learning things about your colleagues and what they’re working on? You hate being up to date with goings-on that are relevant to the work you’re doing?
Of course not. Those are all great things that meetings give us the opportunity to do. And yet – most of us would answer “yes” to the question of whether we hate meetings. Why?
Some would say:
- They’re a waste of time.
- They’re unproductive.
- They’re a forum for the boss or the office drama king/queen to hold court and run their mouth.
- No one ever says what they’re really thinking in meetings.
- Anything really difficult or controversial gets tabled time and time again because no one wants to deal with it.
- They’re too long.
Those are all valid points and in my decades of workplace and community meetings, I’ve certainly experienced them all, so I get it. But I still love meetings, from a one-on-one over coffee to a 300 person conference.Here’s why:
The fact that a thing is often done badly doesn’t mean it can’t be amazing when done well.
In other words: the reason people think they hate meetings is that there are so many bad meetings out there. So many people suffering through them and making up their minds, based on that miserable experience, that meetings are awful.
I do hate bad meetings. I really, really hate them. Because bad meetings aren’t just annoying time wasters. Far beyond being bad in the moment, they turn people against meetings in general, posing a much larger threat to productivity, to relationships, to connection and resilience overall. Our communities, our teams, and our industries will be weaker if we give up on meetings, which is what bad meetings encourage us to do.
So let’s stop saying we hate meetings and call it like it is: we hate bad meetings. Let’s declare war on these soul sucking time wasters.
Meetings can be good if we also declare our love and commitment for good ones, and start actively working on making them more common, so that we can all enjoy the productivity, camaraderie, and stronger relationships they create.
I see this as a two-pronged operation:
First, build up the trust and understanding between the people who meet. Build them as a team or community both in and out of the meeting room so that they can be productive and engaged all the time, including in the meeting.
- I can help with this, from workplace team building to designing large gatherings for optimal engagement. If that’s something you could use, go ahead and schedule a free call with me.
Second, develop some specific meeting leadership skills so that the nuts and bolts of the meeting itself are on point.
- My colleague Gord Sheppard of Create Awesome Meetings is one of the best experts I’ve found on the mechanics of good meetings. He’s got lots of great stuff on his site, including a lot of great free resources. Go check him out if that’s of interest (click here).
I invite you to share this post with anyone you meet with on a regular basis to get them on the ‘good meetings train’. The more people declare war on bad meetings and make a conscious commitment to getting the most out of gathering, the better off we’ll all be!