Choose the Right Communication Vehicle

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Okay, so this is one of my pet-peeves: People who schedule meetings just for the sake of scheduling meetings. There are times when a meeting is necessary and there are times (probably a lot MORE times) when a meeting is a waste of time. Meetings with too many people involved or not the right people involved can end up wasting time and NOT producing any tangible results.

According to the folks over at Effective Meetings.com, there are guidelines that you should follow. Here’s a brief quote from one of their posts: 10 Commandments of Meetings

“The only good reason to have meetings is to do something together that you can’t do better alone. In business, meetings have three primary purposes: communicating, administering, and deciding. Of these, the first and last are most worthwhile. But the focus of all three kinds of meetings should be action. They should either be communicating the intention to take an action or the results of action that has been taken, administering a plan of action, or deciding among alternative actions. If you find yourself calling meetings – or going to them – that have some other purpose, you’re wasting your time. And everyone else’s. Find something else to do.”

Here are some quick guidelines for when to call a meeting and when to pick up the phone or dash off an email:

  • Prepare and circulate an agenda before each meeting outlining the purpose, topic, and desired results
  • Invite the decision makers or those stakeholders who have input, influence, or veto power
  • Send invitations out early enough to allow for participants to schedule their attendance and prepare
  • Control the meeting to stay on topic, one schedule, and drive towards the intended results
  • If you already have a decision and you are just waiting for a senior VPs approval, pick up the phone
  • If you need to reprimand or criticize a team member or employee, do that privately
  • If you have a specific question and one person has the answer you need, pick up the phone

You don’t always need a committee to make a decision. Go directly to the powers that be, submit your proposal and ask for approval. If the proposal impacts other people, departments, or business units, then send out a meeting invite that includes the proposal and a brief agenda explaining the purpose for the meeting and the expected answers or decisions to come out of the meeting. Invite the decision makers so you don’t have to repeat the meeting. Keep the meeting on schedule and on topic and close the meeting once you have your decisions. Then, as a courtesy, publish the meeting minutes/notes to all those in attendance.

Follow these simple guidelines and your meetings will be more effective and more productive.

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