Learn From My Mistakes: Mismanaged Meetings

Today, our world is all about meetings. Meetings with clients, meetings with our team, meetings with our managers. Meetings via phone, web conference, screen-sharing or in-person. When you get things done and solve major problems, meetings are fantastic. Unfortunately, meetings can be the most unproductive time of your workday. Unproductive meetings are not only a waste of time, they can also be a huge waste of money. In fact, sources state that unproductive meetings cost $37 billion annually.

According to Fuze, 92% of meeting attendees admit to multitasking, 69% are checking email, and 49% are completing unrelated work during the meeting.

Infographic from http://www.goaskcody.com

–> Meaningless Meetings

Have you ever showed up to a meeting and nothing was prepared and no one had anything to share? I’ve definitely organized a meeting with absolutely nothing prepared. I asked my client, “hows everything going? Do you need any help from me?” They said, “no, everything is fine,” because they were busy and we did not have specific topics to cover. The meeting ended in less than 10 minutes, but it was scheduled for 30. With this meaningless meeting, I wasted time and I wasted opportunities to engage my client and upsell products/services. The fact that my client showed up to the meeting was a major feat, but I did not capitalize on the opportunity. Now, when I schedule client meetings, I make sure to bring something that will benefit them and their business. I walk them through new product updates/changes that will specifically combat their issues. I review quick tips on how to use my product. I ask tailored questions to gain a better understanding of their business and discover new ways I can help them.

How to avoid a meaningless meeting:

  1. Create an agenda and have a list of topics to cover.
  2. Create tailored questions to gain a better understanding of their business and discover new ways you can help your clients
  3. If you don’t have anything to talk about, reschedule the meeting until you are properly prepared. Your client will probably love to have more time back on their calendar.

–> Showing up Late to a Meeting

Sometimes my entire day is jam-packed with meetings. Every 30 minutes or hour is segmented into meetings with clients to review issues or meetings with my team to strategize and provide updates. Sometimes I have to schedule a lunch break in my calendar so I can remember to leave my office and have a mental break. Showing up on time to some meetings can be hard because I’m running from one meeting to the next. When I’m right in the middle of fixing a problem and I only have 2 minutes left, I think, let’s just get this done. Then I end up being late to my next meeting. This ends up setting me back the rest of my day. It is important to remember that you are the owner of your calendar. Make sure you are vocal about your time constraints. Be respectful of everyone’s time by starting and stopping on time.

How to avoid showing up late to meetings:

  1. At the beginning of the meeting, tell your clients, your co-workers or your manager that you have a hard stop at a specific time.
  2. Five minutes before the meeting ends, start wrapping up and remind everyone you have to leave at the scheduled time. Schedule more time for later if you still have tasks to complete.
Infographic from http://www.goaskcody.com

Meeting Quick Tips:

  • Start on time and end on time – Yes, you had a meeting at 11am and 12pm and 12:30, but that does not mean you should be late for each meeting. Respect your clients time. Start and end each meeting at the appropriate time. At the beginning of the meeting, tell all attendees that you have a hard stop at a specific time. Five minutes before the meeting ends, start wrapping up, schedule another meeting if necessary and end at the appropriate time.
  • Only have meetings when you have something to share – Everyone is busy. You are busy, your team is busy and your clients are busy. If you don’t have anything crucial to share, reschedule the meeting. If the information can be easily relayed in an email, then no need to schedule an hour-long meeting.
  • Have an agenda and stay on topic – Having an agenda helps guide the meeting. Have a set list of topics you want to discuss and make an effort to keep the conversation on track throughout the meeting. It is easy to go off on a tangent and discuss issues that are unrelated to the tasks at hand. A tangent can derail the meeting completely. Humor and fun conversations are welcome, but make sure to bring the meeting back to the key topics before your time is up.
  • Schedule an appropriate amount of time for the meeting – When scheduling meetings, be mindful of how long the conversations will take. If only 15 minutes are needed, schedule a 15 meeting on the calendar. Keep meetings to 1 hour or less.
  • End the meeting with action steps- As you wrap up the meeting recap everything and create a few actions steps. Make sure everyone knows their next steps. Follow up with an email explaining what you decided at the end of the meeting.

How do you make sure your meetings are productive?

Posted by

Liberian and Nigerian Queen. Black, wide-set nose. Love to smile and born to laugh. I'm stew and rice with fried plantains. Freshly baked pound cake, chocolate chip cookies, and vanilla ice cream. I'm the tell you what you need to know because someone has to say it. I'm a black girl trying to find the sweetness in every day and live a balanced life.

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