Do you know Miss Othmar? When was the last time you attended a meeting where you felt like you were listening to Miss Othmar?
Managers frequently comment that they can’t get any work done because they are in so many meetings. A Harvard Business Review article on stopping meeting madness reported: “We surveyed 182 senior managers in a range of industries: 65% said meetings keep them from completing their own work. 71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient. 64% said meetings come at the expense of deep thinking. 62% said meetings miss opportunities to bring the team closer together. “
How do you minimize group and individual impact from meetings? Google “secret to better meetings” and you will be flooded with ideas. Forbes highlights their secrets in a basic list:
• Respect attendees’ time. Start on time and end on time.
• Get to the point. Spend a few minutes before the meeting thinking about your message. What do you want to get across? If not everyone in your audience can articulate what the point was, your meeting has been a failure.
• Consider who needs to be there. If it’s not essential for someone to be in attendance, let them off the hook.
• Set the agenda ahead of time. Giving people a sense of what they are walking into, whether with a bullet-point agenda or handouts of key information.
• End with clear action items. What needs to be done, who needs to do it and when does it need to be accomplished? This may be the most crucial step to having a meeting pay off.
• Turn off your cell phone or other devices. Just as you want a speaker to respect your time by starting and ending on time and getting right to the point, you as a listener should eliminate any potential distractions. After all, one of the biggest reasons meetings are a waste of time is that we are all too busy multitasking to pay attention.
What works for you?
Here are some tips from innovative companies:
- Apple- “small groups of smart people”
- TED- “keep it short”
- GOOGLE- appoint a decision maker, “Buck Stops Here” person
- 3M- Allow free time for people to generate new ideas.
- Facebook- Stand up
- Upfront Ventures- Leave behind your laptops
- Virgin- Innovative ideas come from innovative spaces, get out of the office
- Amazon- Get rid of powerpoint
- Nike- Doodle to stay creative
- Microsoft- Ralph the rubber chicken gets tossed around when it’s your turn to speak.
Imagine a standing meeting in a cafe with a rubber chicken being tossed around with no lap tops, powerpoints, cellphones and everyone doodling with magic markers! Count me in.
What are your best strategies for meetings that build a team and spark innovation and productivity?
Or maybe just get a trombone with a mute and sound like Miss Othmar when things get rough.