Advertising
Advertising

Nail Meetings Down Tight

Nail Meetings Down Tight

Meetings can have lots of loose flow to them. They start a little late because people show up a little late. There’s that spot where you haven’t seen Jumpha in a while and you ask about her children. You pass out the agenda and people face-down a while browsing it and shuffling papers. Some folks are reading and answering mail via their BlackBerrys.

I think that’s all crap. Meetings are often like dental visits. You should go in, get scraped, picked, rinsed, and cleaned, go home with a toothbrush and a sixth month appointment and that’s that.

Advertising

You can fantasize all you want about the whiteboard meetings with all the gorgeous visualizations and all that, but those are truly the rarity, aren’t they? My early subscription to Fast Company magazine had me fooled for a while. I started believing that meetings were gorgeous, luscious events, where people really plotted out the future of the company. Bull.

Advertising

Meetings are where people hash out status, assign work, and make snap decisions. They should be treated that way. And yes, I know your place is culturally different. I know you’re only one woman. I know that you’re not the boss. Here are some tips for when YOU get to lead the meeting.

Advertising

  • Publish the agenda as early as possible. At the top, state: “This is the agenda for this meeting. We will review items on this list ONLY. If you would like to propose an agenda item not yet covered, please do so in the reply. An adjusted agenda will be sent out. “
  • At the bottom of the agenda, set the rules of the meeting: “Your time is important. I value your time and respect your attendance. Please turn off all mobile devices for the duration of the meeting. Please agree to stick to the agenda. Please refrain from sidebar conversations.”
  • At the beginning of the meeting, start regardless of whether all the people you need are there. It only takes missing a few beginnings, especially if you refuse to go back, to get people to arrive promptly. Once they understand the nature of your meetings, they’ll get the clue.
  • Start every meeting with the briefest of “house rules” conversations: “We’re going to meet quickly on this specific agenda. I’m going to talk, and you’re going to confirm the information we have here. There’s a question of next steps that we’ll keep open for discussion. Please, no cell phones – turn them off- and no sidebar conversations. One speaker at a time. Thanks. Let’s begin.”
  • Be pleasant, but be the authority. Gently remind people that the agenda is there, that the meeting is what it is. There shouldn’t be discovery at this flavor of meeting.
  • Never go over. If you still have agenda but no time, stop the conversation. Thank everyone for their time. Get up. They can stay, but you should walk out. Don’t bend on this. You’re making people late for the next meeting.
  • If you can, finish early.
  • Give people every chance between the meetings to be heard. Those who blather the most at meetings are just afraid that you don’t get their point. Go to them personally, one on one, and listen to them as long as you can stand. Reflect their words back. Show them you know what they’re saying.
  • Publish meeting notes right away. They should be very little more than the agenda with “confirmed” next to every point, and/or maybe a small block of notes at the bottom. If you are all in the same building, consider just photocopying your version of the notes and handing it to everyone. If an electronic copy is needed, be brief. Do not publish volumes of information. Meeting agendas are status queues, not logs for the meeting. (One peeve of mine with most project managers, formal or informal, is that they write mini novels when a status is all that’s necessary).

You ARE the authority at meetings you call. You can bring this culture to your company fairly quickly, because it shows respect for people’s time, a willingness to call the meeting and disperse quickly, and a strong sense of knowing what you know. Meetings where you seem prepared and act as the authority are always more pleasant for all involved. I strongly urge you to give these tips a try and write back.

–Chris Brogan writes about self-improvement and productivity at [chrisbrogan.com] . He writes about new media and content at Grasshopper Factory. Meet Chris Brogan at PodCamp Boston or at the Podcast and Portable Media Expo show in California.

Advertising

More by this author

7 Uses for a Virtual Machine When Emailing Think Press Release Mail, BrainDump, Mail, Do Stretch Goals Matter You Had me at Insane

Trending in Communication

1 10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life 2 9 Things to Remember When You’re Having a Bad Day 3 5 Steps to Cultivate a Positive Mental Attitude 4 How to Think Positive and Eliminate Negative Thoughts 5 How to Deal with Failure and Pick Yourself Back Up

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on December 3, 2019

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

2. Pace Yourself

Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

Advertising

Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

3. You Can’t Please Everyone

“I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

Advertising

We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

6. It’s Not All About You

You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

Advertising

It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

Advertising

Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

More Inspiring Lessons

Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

Read Next