Avoid these common mistakes during meetings

Friday January 25 2019

Meetings are important as they help you evaluate progress, consult, set goals and update one another.

Meetings are important as they help you evaluate progress, consult, set goals and update one another. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH 

DAISY OKOTI
By DAISY OKOTI
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We are back to work, which means back to meetings. Was that a sigh of frustration?

Meetings are not always the most exciting part of a work day, but unfortunately, they are inevitable whatever career you are in. It is through them that you evaluate progress, consult, set goals and update one another.

They are especially important if your business is still young and you are looking to adopt best meeting practices in your field. But you have to do them right otherwise they will be useless because they will not deliver their promise.

This week, we discuss common complaints about meetings, and how you can avoid them. Before we get our teeth into that, we recommend that you read an article in Forbes titled, 14 Tips For Leading a More Effective Meeting. This article discusses the mechanics of pre-meeting, meeting and post-meeting, so it covers ways to ensure that everyone is prepared for the meeting and is clear on the agenda. It also explores ways to make sure that everyone is involved in the meeting, and explains why the post-meeting, (where people get to see the results of that meeting) is important, as well as how to follow up on deliverables and action plans.

The article notes that no one appreciates meetings for meetings’ sake (except where there is food) because such gatherings consume valuable time, and if you are working with tight deadlines, it can be annoying.

So, what are the most common complaints about meetings and what can be done about them?

 

Complaint 1:

One-man show meetings

Everyone wants to feel valued and wants to have the opportunity to feel that their opinions were considered.

It is therefore the duty of the convener of that meeting to ensure that everyone has a chance to make their contribution, or, at least, ensure that all the views shared are representative of the population present at the meeting.

An article in a January 2017 Harvard Business Review: "How Managers Can Make Group Projects More Efficient", says the following on the importance of collaboration. No one person has the best ideas. Putting many heads onto a complex problem is often the best way to come up with a solution.

Many hands can make light work. If you are the co-worker that tries to horde all the time during meetings, you do yourself a disservice because you lose out on listening to other brilliant ideas that you can benefit from. You also alienate team members who, honestly and understandably, do not want to work with a time hoarder.

 

Complaint 2:

Protracted meetings

Once in a while, matters not in the agenda come up and there is need for more time. Usually, however, when people had other plans and a meeting is either behind time or going beyond time for unclear reasons, people are bound to get impatient.

Lucid Meetings, an online site created to help teams run highly productive meetings online to accelerate progress on their work, notes that some of the ways to ensure that your meetings do not run out of time is by clarifying your goal and simplifying the agenda of the meeting. This way, it becomes easier to predetermine how much time one needs to work on time allocation and ensure that there are no unnecessary time skills. And in this modern unpredictable world, things come up and sometimes meetings have to be cancelled.

It is important that such cancellations are clearly communicated to your team to guard against feelings of resentment if people feel that you do not value their time.

 

Complaint 3:

Talking about the same thing over and over

It is exhausting if you have to say or hear the same thing over and over. When you have meetings to discuss the same issues, it means that your meetings are ineffective and that you have been unable to achieve your goals.

When you keep talking yet nothing gets done, it becomes exhausting. Quip (an online office tool whose role is to rethink the workspace) suggests adding accountability items on the action plans.

“Jot those action items down in a Quip document instead (of having to say them over and over).

Put them right in the meeting agenda, and assign responsibility and due dates with @ mentions and reminders. When items are due, your team will get alerts right in Quip, when they are already doing the rest of their work.”

It is easy to forget about meeting conclusions as soon as they are done, and in today’s world where people have a minimum of three tasks running concurrently, there has to be a way to ensure that they remember the reasons for the meetings and why the outcomes are important.

This list can go on and on. Look within your individual settings and see what other complaints exist about meetings and come up with ways to creatively solve them.

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