While I love people, I can be downright curmudgeonly when it comes to meetings. After all, I'm a w-r-i-t-e-r. My work is typically solitary. In my mind, every moment I'm in a meeting is a moment I'm not writing. And considering the (lack of) value I've derived from and contributed to the meetings I've attended over the considerable length of my career, it's no wonder that each new invite has me scrambling for reasons not to attend.
Bad attitude, right? Or is it?
As grumpy and antisocial as I may sound, let's break this down. The fact is that most meetings are...
1) Overly long. It seems as though the unspoken, default meeting length is one hour. But is that really the minimum amount of time required to run through status updates or discuss next week's email blast? Probably not.
2) Dreadfully boring. Maybe it's just me, but my worst nightmare is to sit through a 50-slide PowerPoint deck — even if it has a lot of impressive animations. It's even more painful when the presenter is reading each slide to the audience as she goes through it. Please, please just email me the deck. I promise to read every word.
3) Mystifyingly without purpose. Again, I know I sound terribly crabby, but I cannot count the number of meetings I've attended where, 45 minutes in, I still don't know why I'm there. Maybe the meeting organizer thought he was being courteous by involving me. Maybe he thought I'd feel bad if I was left out of a group conversation. But I assure you, unless I can contribute or derive concrete value, I'd much rather be making sure I meet deadlines.
4) Disorganized. How many times has this happened to you: A coworker sends you a meeting invite that appears to have a valid goal. It arrives with a compelling subject line, such as "Important Q1 Initiatives." So, you show up, ready to go, laptop and water bottle in hand...only to spend the next 20 minutes alone in the conference room, waiting for the other attendees to arrive. Then, once the forum has assembled, you wait another 15 minutes while the organizer fumbles with the videoconferencing software to loop in a remote participant. Then, she can't pull up the PowerPoint. Sound familiar? Add it to the list of reasons I start to panic when that meeting invite hits my inbox.
5) Difficult to follow. Most of the tech companies I work with have remote employees that need to be involved with certain projects. So, of course, we invite them to "dial in" to meetings, when appropriate. However, if you've ever been the one dialing in, you know that it can be difficult to keep up with the flow of the conversation — maybe because you can't see the whiteboard, or because the screen-sharing application keeps going down or because your wifi makes the video feed stutter. When these issues stack up, you wonder if it was worth anyone's time to try to involve you in the first place.
Given all of these commonplace meeting mishaps, is it any wonder that I've cultivated a long list of ready-made excuses for why I can't attend?
The truth is, it's not that meetings are bad. It's the way we run meetings that's bad. The good news is, we can fix it.
Because I know there's a curmudgeon like me in your office, I highly encourage you to download Prysm's ebook "Nine Ways to Put the Mojo Back in Your Meetings." It contains some great tips on how to determine the optimal length for your meeting, inviting the right attendees and devising an organized agenda.
Additionally, it explains how Prysm Visual Workplace can help you make meetings much more engaging by:
- Allowing you to display and interact with multiple types of content on screen at once
- Giving remote employees the tools they need to be as effective as if they were in the room
- Helping you more easily visualize data
- Providing a way for all attendees to interact with content simultaneously, in real time
Collaboration is essential to building products, delivering services, brainstorming ideas and solving problems. So, I say, go ahead and hold that meeting. Just make sure you avoid the most common pitfalls and make every minute count.
If you'd like to learn more about how Prysm Visual Workplace can help you turn meetings into effective, productive working sessions, contact us for a quick demo.