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Why Your Business Meetings Stink

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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 Deutsch 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.

business consultants discussing meetings

© Flickr user CP Food images

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 Deutsch of New Focus HR for permission to reference her article.

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Robby Slaughter
Robby Slaughter is a workflow and productivity expert. He is a nationally known speaker on topics related to personal productivity, corporate efficiency and employee engagement. Robby is the founder of AccelaWork, a company which provides speakers and consultants to a wide variety of organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, regional non-profits, small businesses and individual entrepreneurs. Robby has written numerous articles for national magazines and has over one hundred published pieces. He is also the author of several books, including Failure: The Secret to Success. He has also been interviewed by international news outlets including the Wall Street Journal. Robby’s newest book is The Battle For Your Email Inbox.
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