Business meetings should be productive and valuable. But studies report that most people think they are a waste of time. An article by Kristen Shingleton of New Focus HR brings the meeting purpose to the forefront.
The full article is available online, but includes the following suggestions:
Understanding why we have meetings as well as what the outcome should be is important. A meeting may be necessary when:
- complex information needs to be shared,
- the expertise of several people is needed to develop the best ideas,
- the subject matter affects everyone in your group, and/or
- a group’s commitment is desired in order to reach an outcome.
Do the meetings in your organization meet these criteria?
These are powerful thoughts, but Shingleton’s points may make the most sense in reverse. How many meetings are convened to share information that is simple? In that case, perhaps it would be best just to send an email. And what if there’s no need to develop new ideas? If so, there’s no reason to have a meeting.
Furthermore, if there are people at a meeting who are not impacted by the topic of the meeting, those people should not have been invited in the first place! And if you’re not really interested in people’s opinions or involvement, then there is no value to having a meeting.
The article also notes:
Meetings should also lead to positive outcomes that include:
- effective strategies for taking action,
- agreement on responsibilities and assignments,
- development of new ideas,
- better understandings of policies, procedures or changes, and
- better working relationships.
Do the meetings in your organization lead to positive outcomes?
Once again, consider these bulleted items in reverse. If in the end the meeting produces no strategies, no agreement, no new ideas, no increased understanding and does not improve working relationships, why have the meeting?
That’s not to say that we should have less meetings. Rather, we should ensure that meetings actually have a purpose. And we should ensure that everyone at the meeting has a role to play. The piece concludes with:
Participants need to have both their practical and personal needs met during a meeting. Practical needs include accomplishing the meeting’s purpose as efficiently and effectively as possible. Personal needs are that the participants feel valued, listened to and included in the meeting.
Are your meetings productive?
Thanks to Kristen Shingleton of New Focus HR for permission to reference her article.