The word “meeting” may on the surface be one of the least harmful words in the English language. It’s a social word. You meet friends for lunch. You meet a person for the first time. You can even have a meeting of the minds.
In the business world, however, the neutrality of the word “meeting” disappears completely. When you have to attend a meeting you might think (or even say out loud), “Well, there goes my whole day.”
Meetings may mark a time of frustration when you have a lot of ideas but are not given a chance to verbalize them. Meetings may be collections of time in which you are doomed to listen to a person drone on and on about topics unrelated to anything on which you’re supposed to be meeting.
For marketers, the dreaded meeting can be particularly galling because there is so much on which marketers need to meet. Marketers have creative meetings, meetings to review the creative and perhaps meetings to review the reviewed creative. There are planning meetings,, meetings to present creative to clients, meetings to report results (hopefully), and that’s not even counting the meetings you have with the C-Suite, HR, and more.
Do not despair. There is a cure for the meeting disease. Let’s talk about three easy meeting techniques.
1. Give everyone time to prepare
One of the most frustrating parts of business meetings is having to wait on people who are not prepared.
If you have a lot of work to complete, watching someone shuffle through a mess of papers is not going to feel productive, nor will you feel good about the situation if you are the perpetrator. The solution to this common problem is to avoid meetings on the fly.
Give everyone a day or two to prepare for the meeting. Avoid that last minute “I need to gather all of my stuff!” pressure.
2. Set time limits
To eliminate the “droning” problem, set a time limit for the meeting, and if you have to, set time limits for each person’s presentation.
Make sure everyone is aware of these time limits in advance. If a person knows that they only have ten minutes to get through everyone on their list, they will be far less likely to add needless chatter into the mix.
3. Give everyone a chance to speak
Few things are more boring than sitting in a meeting where you feel your insights are not welcome. To avoid making any attendee feel unimportant, everyone needs a chance to take the floor.
One interesting solution is an idea called “brainwriting,” which I found in a Fast Company article titled, “Solving Brainstorming’s Loudmouth Problem.” Although the article deals specifically with creative meetings, the concept can be used or altered for any type of meeting. Have everyone write a brief idea on an index card, then shuffle them and pin them to a board so no one knows whose idea belongs to whom.
By taking the personality (i.e. ego) out of the conversation, the actual integrity of different ideas can be weighed without political intrigue. Moreover, this kind of tactic lets everyone contribute on an equal basis.
There are many other ways to cure the common meeting. What have you tried at your company? We’d love to hear from you!
Marjorie Clayman is VP of Client Services at her family’s full service marketing firm,Clayman Marketing Communications. For more from Margie on the Vocus Blog,click here.
Image: Wikipedia Commons