Small Step: Meeting Madness
“Shall we have a meeting about when the next meeting will be?”
Sitting in the opulent surroundings of the Stormont Hotel, attending yet another meeting it got me pondering on how we tend to become slaves to ‘The Meeting’ and the little steps we can take to remain in control of our time.
Ever feel like you seem to run from one meeting to the next, with no breathing space, no time to think? It can feel like being on a treadmill with no way of getting off. What can you do to calm down the frenetic daily dash and really take some quality time to spend on your business.
Ask yourself are all the meetings in your diary absolutely necessary? Could you maybe hold one every two weeks instead of weekly? Have some just become standard as they’ve been running for so long? It’s always a good idea to review your meetings every few months, you may find that some of them are no longer useful to the business due to constant change and flux in the daily grind. You may even find that you do not have to be present in person and can send a delegate in your place who can convey your message and also brief you afterwards.
Have a look at how long they are? Do they always run over, do you notice that after a while staff suddenly have the attention span of a gnat, looking at their phones, even people talking to each other in asides? Always have an Agenda and stick to it as much as possible – ask someone to chair the meeting and keep track of time, constantly moving the dialogue on. Human beings can only concentrate fully for a certain length of time without breaks, so either make your meetings short but to the point or take advantage of natural breaks if you really must have long ones. The effects of an ineffective meeting, where employees feel disgruntled, can hang around for long after the meeting has ended.
Ensure there are actions coming out of each meeting and chase them up before the next one. How gratifying and time-saving is it to have already chased the action beforehand and automatically be able to report progress than have a string of answers from staff such as “I need to revert on that one!” We all have those actions which sit about for months being put off. Progress on those issues is delayed which can be costly to the business.
If you’re travelling to a meeting, don’t forget to factor in time for this. There’s nothing worse than being in a rush, arriving late, missing the first part and feeling like you’re on the back foot the whole way through the meeting, playing catch up. Also plan for traffic issues, or other areas which may cause you to delay in getting there.
And finally, and most importantly, how do you complete large work projects in between meetings? Break them down into small parts. For example, you need to get that presentation done, but can’t seem to get a good run at it? Break it down into small parts and plan to complete these in the free time you have. You’ll not only have it completed in no time, but you’ll have peace of mind which you can’t put a price on.
Guest Blogger: Wendy Cree, Virtual Assistant
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