A Guide To: How To Make Your Business Meetings Suck Less
Oh joy, you’ve set up another one of your fabulous, entertaining and compelling business meetings for partners, prospective partners, clients, and vendors. Everyone’s completely thrilled to have received the invite. It made everyone feel as though they’d been invited to a royal summit of kings and queens and a bad#$s Chinese buffet.
Only that’s not the reaction anyone had. At all. Because your business meetings are neither fabulous nor entertaining nor (and most importantly) compelling.
Your business meetings suck.
Why would anyone want to go to another one of your sucky business meetings? Well, for the most part, they wouldn’t. So the responsibility falls on your shoulders to make your business meeting a better experience. Yes, it is possible to turn this modern day Titanic sinkings around, but it is going to take some knowledge and effort. I can’t help with the effort portion since that would require an out of body experience, I can, however, help with the knowledge.
Tips for making your business meetings better.
Have a goal.
Seriously, you show up to business meetings with no agenda? The meeting uncomfortably and disgracefully begins with the awkwardness of everyone looking at one another. It is a silent chaos. Having a goal is simple. If you can’t come up with a goal for the meeting, don’t have it. There is nothing worse than showing up for a meeting and not having a point to it. And it happens all the damn time. I think many meeting organizers seriously forget that one detail: having a point. You wouldn’t show up to an airport’s departure terminal without a ticket to fly, would you?
Make sure the meeting is necessary.
After determining the goal, decide if the meeting is necessary or something that could be instead accomplished through a short phone call or maybe with just one or two other people, not ten. People have things to do. When you herd them up, they have to break their focus and concentration and flow. Yes, many people are just refreshing Facebook, but some aren’t. Some do actual work. And you ruin that work when you have a meeting so be sure that your meeting is fruitful.
Make sure you invite decision makers.
If people aren’t going to be able to contribute to the changes or goals, then you are just inviting them so that they can hear your voice. That makes you a jerk. Nobody likes a jerk. The only people that need be at your meeting are essential cats. The people who can make decisions based on the information you plan to provide. The Fed Ex lady probably doesn’t need to be in your meeting about company overspending just because she drops off packages every mid-day. She has more important things to do.
Schedule on a day and hour that makes sense.
No, Monday morning at 9 am doesn’t make sense for a strategy meeting. No, the day before Christmas break is not a good day to have a meeting about something that no one will be able to seriously work on until after Santa places coal lumps in their stockings. Don’t schedule meetings during high-stress times. Use common sense.
Create a list of agenda items and FOLLOW THEM.
The agenda items should be relevant to the meeting’s goal. Agenda items serve to keep things on track. The meeting should only be about the goal, as soon as someone brings up that the vending machines have been out of Cool Ranch Doritos for a week, you can reel everyone back in. Unless a Cool Ranch Doritos shortage is what your meeting is about, in which case, scroll back up to “was this meeting really necessary” portion.
You don’t want to live a life whereas each time you send out a Google calendar invite, people simultaneously jump from their office balconies. Having meetings for silly reasons waste other people’s time. Having meetings just so you have a stage for yourself waste other people’s time. Having a meeting that has no agenda based organization waste other people’s time. There is a trend here, have you picked up on it yet?
Business meetings can be awesome. That Facebook company, they have business meetings and they are doing pretty darn well (I heard). Getting the gang together to talk strategy and ideas can be a wonderful thing. Just do it right. Otherwise, people will hate you. You don’t want to be hated.