Babies, bathwater and meetings

2015

The old joke used to go, “everybody likes to complain about the weather, but no one does anything about it”. Replace “weather” with “meetings” and you’ve got the same syndrome. Some people suggest simply doing away with all meetings, which is a classic case of 'throwing the baby out with the bathwater' approach. A new e-book gives you some tips to improve your meetings and maybe save some babies.

LucidMeetings is a software platform I’ve mentioned before. Their new e-book, “Meetings are Serious Business” is a handy 30-page guide to thinking differently about your meetings, especially when you’re working remotely. The authors look at three critical facts about successful team meetings:

  • Meetings and money: bad meetings are more than just annoying, they are a serious drain on your company’s resources
  • Meetings and culture: how you and your team run meetings speaks to your company’s culture, engagement and decision making capabilities
  • Make meetings valuable: there are ways to calculate the value of your meetings and make smart decisions about when and how to meet

Before the complaints start: yes, the e-book is ultimately a marketing piece, so don’t be surprised. Everything free on the internet is marketing, but some adds more value than others. You’re a grownup, deal with it. You know that I tend not to recommend one tool over another - and that rule applies here - but I found it really worth looking at, and they know their stuff. You can download it here if you’re interested.

Maybe the most interesting thing the authors have to say is something we’ve reiterated over and over in this blog: The notion that meetings can be simply dispensed with in favor of email exchanges or discussion sites is simply wrong. Yes, meetings involve the transfer of data and opinion, and that can be done electronically without pulling you away from other work. But to be truly valuable, they also recognize two important facts about meetings.

First, we meet in order to make decisions, share information clearly and ensure alignment. That is difficult to do in an asynchronous environment. You need to be able to hear (and possibly see) each other in real time to really enhance understanding over the long haul.

Secondly, we meet because we are human. We have a DNA-encoded need to connect with people on a social level in order to build trust, question, and share information honestly, and to go above and beyond for each other. Without recognizing the social and psychological needs of meeting attendees, you’re missing most of the value such events create.

That last point is crucial: good meetings add value, bad ones destroy value (and the souls of attendees). By understanding what value you seek, and how to attain it, you can significantly enhance the work your team does, and the morale of your teammates.

Having fewer but more productive meetings is a great way of saving bathwater. And babies.

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About The Author

Wayne Turmel
Wayne Turmel

Wayne Turmel is a speaker, writer and co-founder of The Remote Leadership Institute. He’s passionate about helping people present, sell and lead people and projects using today’s virtual communication technology. His books include Meet Like You Mean It - a Leader’s Guide to Painless and Productive Virtual Meetings. Wayne is based in Chicago, IL.