“If you had to identify, in one word, the reason the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings’”
Dave Barry, Pulitzer Prize-winning commentator
the trouble with meetings
cartoon by the brilliant Simon Pearsall pearsallcartoons.com
Meetings are a brilliant idea. Collaboration is what makes humans so successful as a species and we all benefit from sharing information, pooling expertise, solving problems jointly and creating a sense of shared purpose and team spirit.
A great meeting is structured, creative, focused, free-flowing, disciplined, respectful, challenging, brief. It offers a forum for constructive dialogue between the right people with the right expertise. It produces great ideas and clear actions.
Sadly many meetings are a long way from this. Some of the problems are to do with meeting organisation and discipline: late starts, the wrong people invited, badly structured agendas and unhelpful behaviour from those attending, like side conversations and e-mailing, both overt and covert. A good chair or facilitator can solve many of these problems. Although before you leap to blame the person responsible for your bad meetings, it's a much harder job than most people realise.
But probably the most aggravating feature for many people is the difficulty of getting their voices heard. At its worst the airtime is monopolised by the big egos as they ride hobbyhorses, air grievances, play out petty rivalries and generally showboat. And even when things are less dramatic, the less confident and less vocal find their ideas and expertise go unheard or brushed aside. Rather than creative thinking and clear actions, the main outputs of many meetings are hot air and frustration.
Maybe you find yourself unable to break into the discussion in the first place? Or perhaps you start to speak but others talk over you? Or you get to say your piece, but it doesn’t influence the discussion the way you would like it to.
If so, then understanding a little more about what is happening - and why - and practising some of the techniques I outline in these vlogs and blogs will help you get your voice heard, be more effective and possibly help save your sanity. They address roughly the same issues but not always in the same order because the focus of the vlogs is immediately practicable techniques whereas many of the blogs include a little more theory and depth of explanation.
And if you’d like to discuss how I can help you sharpen your impact at meetings so you get your voice heard, I’d love to hear from you firstname.lastname@example.org or on +44 7973 890578