Meetings; What’s Most Important?
I read a great blog with several helpful suggestions for managing
meetings the other day. It’s entitled 9 Tips for Efficient Meetings.
For me, the omission in this article raised a very important
question – which is “What’s Most Important in Meetings?”
Stay with me and I’ll summarize what the article said, what it
omitted, and why the answer to that question about what’s
important in meetings is critical.
First here’s a summary of the blog’s suggestions:
1. Make people show up on time
2. Always have an agenda
3. Invite the right people
4. Use email effectively
5. Use meetings to argue
6. Record your decisions
7. Kill the Powerpoints
8. Get everyone talking
9. End on time
The biggest omission in this blog is in point #6, which was basically
a suggestion to make sure you capture meeting notes to “give you a way
to pass on the meeting’s contents to people who need to know about the
discussion, but can’t come…”
When I read this, I’m yelling “No, No, No, the biggest reason to
capture meeting minutes is not to inform, it’s to support action!”
And by-the-way, meeting minutes do a horrible job of supporting
action and follow-through. For most, meeting notes are something
that gets filed away and 99% of the people never read them.
But back to when I quit yelling inside.
I realized that fundamentally people approach meetings with something
that is designated as most important. I’m sure you do as well. It could
be a number of things, but for this article and for most meetings, it’s
all about the discussion. The discussion is most important, and
consequently you read in this blog and others, a number of tips about
how to have an efficient discussion.
That got me thinking. I don’t think or operate that way. For me,
what’s most important in meetings is action, not the discussion.
I’m not terribly interested in all the talk, except that it helps to review
what’s been done to-date, what are the decision points at hand and
what action needs to take place. Ultimately the past, present and
future action steps are what’s important… not the talking.
I use ManagePro to manage meetings, because I want to track, plan,
review and assign action items within the meeting in real time. Meeting
minutes become a quick synopsis of the discussion content, what got
accomplished, and mostly a series of new tasks that once entered in the
meeting are already showing up on individual’s calendars and todo lists.
Again, I need the documentation primarily to help me drive action,
not capture who said what.
We all prioritize something in meetings. If you check, I believe you’ll
find that most people prioritize the discussion as what’s most important
in the meeting process. I think that’s worth reconsidering. You’ll get
much more out of meetings if you prioritize supporting action, instead
of “mike” time.