How to Not Waste Time (On a Meeting))
Willingly or unwillingly, I enter my 21st year of “minding my business”, totalling thousands of hours of presentations, meetings on projects and so on. I like hearing stories, I’ll admit it. It gives me great pleasure to exchange ideas and talk about different experiences with people, including with our clients. But a meeting in which we have a lot of work to do still remains a meeting in which we have a lot to do, so the tasks must be dealt with, the decisions must be made and time must be used “sparingly”, because, after all, it is the only thing we can never get back. And, seeing that we are a brand and design consulting company, the value of our projects is given by how we use our time to the benefit of the client. And ours, of course, because in the end time is money. We can also start another discussion on what this value means, but I will try to write about it another time. So, some of the lessons learned on my own skin that I then put into practice:
1. The discussion agenda must be decided upon a few days in advance (at least one) and the topics considered should be precisely defined. This also relates to the participants, the location and the duration of the meeting.
2. Punctuality is the politeness of kings, as someone much smarter than me often says, so arriving 5-10 minutes earlier is really useful.
3. How the meeting begins and how it ends should be in accordance to what was previously discussed.
4. The topics of discussion should be checked off and taken care of one by one.
5. All necessary meeting information must be easily accessible before and during the meeting.
6. Paper and pencils are very useful.
7. Phones remain switched off during a meeting. No texts, e-mails, etc.
8. Do not interrupt a speaker, and be concise and stick to the topic when it is your turn to speak.
9. Examples that illustrate what you want to convey are always a plus.
10. You are allowed to disagree with me, I even dare you to.
11. Chatting and whispering with another person or group means “segregating”, and it is not at all useful, polite or pleasant.
12. It is totally contraindicated to be present at a meeting only for the sake of being present. Those who participate must be involved, must actively participate and take responsibility; being checked on a list means absolutely nothing.
13. Consensus is good after all the items on the agenda have been dealt with and negotiated.
14. Establish the next steps that should be taken and who is responsible for each of them, when everyone should finish their tasks and, if possible, the date of your next meeting.
15. Sending an e-mail (fax, traveling pigeon or telepathic thought in writing) with the main points and conclusions of the meeting within 24 hours means a lot (it might actually mean everything) in order for the meeting to not be a waste of time.