Monday, October 02, 2006

It's National Meetings Week -- Um, Yay?

Imagine: I'm sitting at my desk, furiously typing on a project with the NPR station playing softly in the background. I'm so totally in the zone, I can barely hear the murmur of the station, which had switched to BBC World News.

What had me stop typing wasn't the report about Congressman Foley and House-Page-Gate. It was the report that in Britain it was National Meetings Week.

Huh? An entire week devoted to events we would rather lie "I've got root canal that day" than attending. In fact, I can think of only one other commonly-accepted time waster -- the off-site --that starts eyes a-rolling.

Seems this annual event started in 2001 was formed to generate more business for, you guessed it, meeting organizers. Crafty.

There are ways to have your meetings be more effective. Chief among them is not having them. If you find you really must get a group together for planning of to discuss execution of a project or process, keep these things in mind:

  • Decide what results you want to achieve -- even before you consider anything else.
  • Decide whether this is a stategic meeting or a tactical meeting. Strategic meetings focus on high-level issues of planning, guidance and alignment with other capabilities -- the kinds of things you see at 30,00 feet. Tactical meetings focus on how things are getting done, focusing on the work -- what you see on the ground.
  • Then choose the people who can best help achieve these results.
  • Think about how much time you'll need. Here, you'll need to be thinking about the value of each person's time.
  • For the results desired, the people attending and the value of their time, think about whether the meeting needs to be held in-person or virtually. Many meetings are made up mostly of reporting (kill me!), which can be taken care of with a group email. You'd be surprised how many meetings can be cut in half with better communication.

Some other considerations:

  • Lunch or breakfast meetings are mostly about the food
  • Meetings after lunch are more sparsely attended (meaning: get 'em in early)
  • Crackberry addicts (I'm not bitter) will suck up a lot of your time checking emails instead of paying attention
  • The higher level the manager, the more late they'll be -- even if they called the meeting

Consider well, gentle Brits, Happy National Meetings Week!