Donna McGeorge (pictured below) is a speaker and mentor who helps people make their work work. She’s also the author of The 25-Minute Meeting: Half the Time, Double the Impact. In her latest post for B&T, McGeorge confirms what most of us know – most meetings are usually pointless. However, they need not be with this three handy kickstarts…
Advertising and marketing professionals need meetings. When meetings work, then they are valuable. Clear actions get set, pitches are won and the whole business moves forward.
But what we don’t need is for meetings to waste our time, money and resources., which they frequently do. In fact, a 2014 Bain & Company study found that a single weekly meeting of midlevel managers was costing one organisation $15 million a year!
While in media, it might be common practice to spend all day going back-to-back in meetings, the standard you walk past is the standard you accept.
So here are three things that you can implement today to immediately improve your meetings at work, and win yourself back your weekends.
- Half the meeting time
Parkinson’s Law explains that ‘work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion’. Hence, when you give people time to get stuff done, they will use whatever time you allow them.
That is what happens when we default to 60-minute meetings, where in fact, we could get the same amount of work done in half that time.
As far back as 1911, Frederick Taylor Winslow, one of the very first management consultants, made the connection between productivity, effort, and rest or breaks. He found that people who gave a focused amount of effort for 25 minutes, and then spent the next 35 minutes resting, increased productivity by 600 per cent.
It’s a fact: when we concentrate our efforts in shorter, controlled periods of time, then we achieve more. So start scheduling your meetings for 25 minutes (yes, really).
Change your calendar app to default to 25 minutes, instead of 60, and tell people you only have 25 minutes the next time you meet. You’ll be surprised at the results.
- Meet with purpose
Or don’t meet at all. It really is that simple. What is the purpose of the meeting? If there is no purpose, then there is no meeting.
Are you sharing client information, deciding about the business or coming up with a solution to a pitch? If you can’t meet one of these then you have no reason to meet, so cancel it and communicate some way else.
When you’re sure you have a good reason to meet, then, and only then, do you think about who else should be there. Answer: it is not everyone and the cat.
Too often I have heard people say that their evenings (when they should be with their families, friends or enjoying leisure time) are spent catching up on emails they have missed because they have been in meetings all day, most of which had no point or no purpose for them actually being there. So just stop, now.
- Prepare to contribute
If no one is moderating the meeting, then the loudest or most passionate voices are all that is heard. (And, we all know there is a lot of noise already in a marketing meeting, I mean, who needs more?)
Those that may be more introverted may not be able to get a word in, or have the time and space for their usually well-considered opinion. That’s a real opportunity cost to the business.
Having a process and a structure to facilitate the discussion means that everyone can contribute evenly. Send questions out in advance, along with the agenda, to give everyone a chance to consider their answer and contribute evenly.
Then nominate a meeting chair to facilitate one-minute each of discussion about their point of view. The chair has the right to interrupt and park non-relevant issues when everyone goes off track (which will happen).
Follow through on your commitments and actions before, during and after the meeting to hold your new strategy and everyone involved to account.