Family friends booked their summer vacation already months ago: a boat trip on the Amazon. This has been their dream destination for years. After all of the commotion over the Zika virus, though, they decided to postpone the trip. They are concerned that not all of the details about the virus are known. This provides an unsafe feeling: so many hazards and risks that they cannot oversee. I’d do the same, after all prevention is better than cure! The same is true with meetings. If you are aware of the following pitfalls, you can avoid a lot of meeting pain.
Pitfall 1: meeting just to meet
Do you also have set weekly, or even daily, meetings in your organization? There is nothing wrong with that, providing there are enough relevant agenda points. If not, postpone the points to the next meeting or cancel it completely. It is a waste of time to meet only to meet!
Pitfall 2: vague purpose
Are the main goals of your meetings clear? In my experience, often they are not. In one meeting people just exchange information, in the other decisions are primarily made. Other objectives that are easily avoided include: developing ideas, forming opinions, giving instructions and planning activities. Do you use meetings only to catch up with each other? That is actually an example of a false purpose. Clearly communicate the goal of the meeting to prevent misunderstandings.
Pitfall 3: bad preparation
“Anna, did you send the notes from the last meeting? I can’t find them” Or “I disagree with the assignments on the task list” Sound familiar? You particularly hear this type of excuse when colleagues are ill-prepared. Or just haven’t done the work that they were selected to do. It disturbs the progress of the meeting and arouses irritation.
Pitfall 4: wrong participants
If you invite the wrong people for the meeting, chances are the meeting will flop. Think carefully then whose presence is essential to attain each goal. Realize that often “less is more.”
Pitfall 5: unclear (or no!) decisions
Some agenda points receive so many reactions and wide range of opinions, that discussion goes on endlessly. The result? That there is no agreement made, nor concrete actions agreed upon by end of the meeting, no matter how much time you spend on it. Time up? Then clear and specific agreements are essential, and tasks visibly delegated as well.
Do these tips appeal to you? You can find more tips in our checklist of effective meetings. You can download these here.