6 Simple Steps to Avoid “Death By Meeting”

I ask the following question in every workshop or coaching session I lead: “Have you ever been to that meeting or presentation that was so disorganized, that you regretted accepting the meeting invite?” Of course you have. We all have.

The Latimer Group spends a lot of time working inside large organizations, and all of them have similar issues with time management and meeting management. Every organization is susceptible to what we routinely refer to as “death by meeting,” or more recently have started referring to as “meeting mayhem.”

Our time, yours and mine, is our most valuable currency, and this has never been more true than it is is today. People have more demands than ever on their time, and the ultimate sign of respect to your colleagues is to show up to a meeting, whether you are leading it or just participating in it, prepared to make the time valuable.

It’s the little things that will do the most good:

1. Only call a meeting when you have to.

2. If you decided to call one, make sure the meeting has a clear overall goal and desired output: decisions, alignment, critical information updates, etc.

3. Distribute an agenda ahead of time, and a schedule. (And make sure that your agenda has enough information included: the topics, who will lead each topic area, the length of time for each discussion, and the desired outcome for each.)

4. Start on time, get into the agenda relatively quickly (if some small talk is helpful, start there), and aim to keep the meeting moving.

5. Embrace your role. If you are leading the meeting, you have several primary responsibilities: keep things moving, and avoid the “rabbit hole” turns in the discussion; keep people engaged, and involved; and keep moving towards conclusions. If you are participating in the meeting, you also have responsibilities: stay engaged. Don’t just turn your camera off and do other work. Be a good participant.

6. End with specific next steps, assigned to an owner who will be responsible for that step.

These are fundamental. We all need to realize that when we show up unprepared, or call meetings for the wrong reasons, we are committing many work sins. But most importantly we are wasting our colleagues’ time, which is a sign of disrespect, and a tangible negative for our company.

Have a great week.

We believe that great communication skills change the world. We transform people and organizations of all sizes with simple, repeatable techniques, through an integrated platform of corporate training, coaching, and asynchronous learning.

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Brett Slater

A book about change

The Latimer Corporation’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.