Making Meetings Work for You

Posted on June 21, 2010


Team Leadership, photo from

Do you find yourself groaning at the thought of the next meeting? When you are at a meeting, have you ever wished so much that it’ll be done quickly? As Patrick Lencioni, author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and Death by Meeting puts it, a meeting is much more relevant and important than a movie, yet nearly no one ever finds it as half exciting. On the contrary most people are instantly put off at the mention of the next meeting. Moreover, such an experience is universal and similar across all cultures, and I believe that you, too, may recall instances of having such a feeling, or perhaps you know someone who does.

Evidently, something should be happening at these meetings that are not happening, and as a result, meetings are never as effective, efficient or the least bit interesting as they could and should be! As leaders and managers, it would be extremely beneficial, to now, take some time to reflect on how we conduct meetings, and if they really are effective in getting our messages across to our team.

A key issue to consider is definitely what we hope to achieve. Is the meeting meant to be a brainstorming session? Is it meant as an avenue to disseminate information? Is it meant to be a time to iron out any differences that could affect the operations of the team? While all of the objectives mentioned above are well and fine, what most definitely is not fine, is not knowing the objective! In fact, it is the main reason why people dread meetings.

When a chairperson fails to be clear in his objective for the meeting, the meeting essentially looses its purpose. Can you imagine watching a movie with no storyline? Numerous scenes follow, but with no apparent link and reason. If you have ever came out of a poor movie complaining, “What on Earth was that boring thrash about?”, you will realise what I mean.

And this is exactly why meetings are less interesting than movies! People (us included) often sit through ridiculously long meetings, wondering what is going on throughout, and wondered what went on after. Perhaps, we may even have wondered what on Earth were we there for!

The sad reality is that as so many leaders and managers fail to be clear of their intended purpose for meetings, meetings end up involving brainstorming, information disseminating, and conflict resolving all at the same time, and within moments, the discussion would have ended up to be about the chairperson’s favourite sports car!

The first step to making meetings work for you is to know what you hope to achieve out of the meeting, be it to brainstorm, to disseminate information, or to iron out differences, or even a well managed combination. A lack of awareness of your purpose would almost certainly render the meeting a waste of time, and often become a pain to sit through for the members.

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