Donna McGeorge (pictured below) is a speaker and mentor who helps people make their work work. McGeorge is also author of The 25-Minute Meeting: Half the Time, Double the Impact. In her latest guest post for B&T, McGeorge offers her tips on avoiding every workers’ hell- the pointless meeting…
We all complain about having to attend too many meetings. We wonder why we are at the meeting, in a cast of thousands, wading through dozens of boring reports that may or may not have an impact on our work.
This is not about inviting everyone you know in your team who might have a vague interest in your purpose for the meeting, but carefully considering the minimum number of key people you need.
When you have the wrong type or number of people in a meeting you will get diminishing levels of return. Basically, the more people you involve, then the more complicated things become.
If all else fails, then heed this advice from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who suggests we operate meetings according to the two-pizza rule. If you can’t feed all the participants with two pizzas, there are too many people there.
So who gets to come? Here are five questions you need to ask to make sure you have the right people in a meeting:
1: What is their role in the meeting?
When it comes to roles, you need to be clear yourself what a person’s purpose is in the meeting. Then let people know their roles and what’s expected from them.
Are they facilitating, providing information, receiving information, making a decision, taking notes?
If you are clear on what you need from people, and then you give them a chance to prepare, everyone has a better experience.
2: Who are the key decision makers for the issues involved?
There’s nothing worse than having to have another meeting because the right people weren’t there in the first place!
If this is a meeting that requires a decision to be made, then make sure you have those in the room that are empowered directly, or by proxy, to make that call.
5: How will they give and get value?
We want people who have the right information for the topic at hand, or need the information on the topic at hand.
These are the people that have what we need to move a discussion in the right direction. They will give critical value from their time in this meeting and ask the right questions.
4: Who has a stake in or commitment to the issues being discussed?
For this, we can steal a tool from the world of project management called stakeholder mapping. Generally, when conducting a stakeholder analysis, project managers look at interest and influence when it comes to how we engage stakeholders and how much information they should get (or not) and whether they should be at meetings (or not).
If you don’t invite the right people at the right time, they can later become blockers if they feel they were not adequately engaged.
5: Will their life/job be better as a result of being at this meeting?
Often people say that their life/job is WORSE because of the number of meetings they attend.
This question asks you to consider the true return on investment. Everyone involved in the meeting should walk away thinking that it was a good use of their time. The converse question you could ask here is “Will their life/job go on unimpacted if they don’t attend the meeting.?”
Be picky about who you invite and why. Imagine you are paying (out of your own pocket or budget) all attendees a fee for showing up. Make sure you (and they) get the best value for money.
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