Think Before You Meet

MADE Agency
Jun 21, 2018 · 4 min read

Meetings are an important part of our day. But they can also be a distraction, and even worse, a threat to the efficiency of your business.

Need to brainstorm some ideas? Have a meeting.

Ran into an issue with a colleague? Have a meeting.

Want to discuss new processes and the way things work? Have a meeting.

Got nothing to meet about but like wasting time? Have a meeting.

If you were in agreement with any of the above 4 situations, especially the last one, then rest assured you’re not alone. It has become a peculiar norm, in the advertising industry and otherwise, to gather a few people around a table for hours at a time to discuss something they often lose track of.

We’ve grown accustomed to scheduling meetings around anything from choosing the next fonts of our business cards to reviewing something that was discussed a day before, luring in an arsenal of individuals in the process. More importantly, you lure in their time, which often is their most valuable asset.

The intent is justified; combining the opinion, skills and creativity of a mixture of individuals towards achieving a single purpose is most certainly effective, and moreover recommended.

But are meetings the best way to achieve that?

Simply put, meetings are not always the best method of communication to fulfil a task at hand. And all that time that you’re losing? That’s worth something, an opportunity cost.

With the above in mind, amongst other issues not mentioned, you begin to realise that meetings, if not conducted appropriately and efficiently, can prove to be a risk factor to your business.

You can easily reach similar resolves as you would through meetings by using other means. Why not start an email thread, outlining the topic at hand and the resolve required, and initiate the conversation with your thoughts? That way, each person involved has the time to analyse the current correspondence and add in their own thoughts, whilst remaining focused on the objective. Why not try solve it yourself, and only reach out to others to review and validate your solution?

In some instances, however, meetings are useful, but in order to validate the need for them, they should meet one or more of the following conditions:

Is the meeting objective to provide information? (e.g. a verbal briefing)

Is it to gain information? (e.g. a brainstorm)

Is it to reach a consensus? (e.g. a voting process)

If it situation doesn’t meet the above, you can do without it. If it does, here are some tips to make sure you’re meeting the right way:

Define the purpose of the meeting, and ensure that is clear to everyone prior to the meeting and again at the start of it.

Keep the meeting as focused as possible; avoid incorporating several topics, even if similar, into one session. One task at a time will ensure attention is not diverted.

Enforce etiquette the best way suits you. Only one person speaks at a time, everyone gets a chance to talk before making a decision etc.

Keep an eye on time — if you’ve made no progress within the hour, then something is amiss. Let everyone go back to the drawing board and resume the meeting when it is ready to move forward.

Invite only those necessary — avoid inviting those that may be interested, you’re wasting your and their time. Only key people that can help fulfil the purpose of the meeting should be included. Less is more in this instance.

Prepare for it — don’t start the meeting with nothing. Everyone should know what the meeting is about in advance so they can do the ground work beforehand and present it in the meeting, as opposed to conceptualizing it right there and then.

Do an end review — ensure that the meeting fulfilled its objective and you’ve got what you need.

Assign a facilitator (usually the person organising the meeting) to ensure that the above processes remain intact.

Time is getting scarcer and scarcer — use it wisely.

MADE

The audience is in charge.