Image by ylakeland via FlickrSo I started off writing a post on 10 things to do so that meetings remain useful. As soon as I started typing, I realized that I did not feel motivated enough to write that post. I personally believe 90% of all face to face meetings are useless and could have been avoided. As such, did not want to write something which then others would use primarily (9 cases out of 10) for meetings which did not need to happen. So I thought instead I would list out some of the reasons why I feel meetings are important:-
1. Social meetings are important. I would never want to underestimate the rapport one can build over a heart to heart chat, a drink or over lunch or dinner. Successful people become successful because they very rarely lie and while in a corporate situation they may try to be diplomatic, in a heart to heart chat they would be upfront and direct with you. Getting to this level of comfort takes time otherwise and so I feel doing such social meetings are important. Social meet and greet meetings are also great where the leader meets people across the spectrum of the company and builds empathy and gets ground level feedback.
2. All hands meetings or meetings where the top boss is present (Any other meeting does not qualify as an 'All' Hands). I don't support all hands meetings where the leader is talking or taking questions. I feel this is much better done over email. I feel All hands meetings are best called on a regular basis to cut through corporate bureaucracy and to ensure that there are no silly wait times because some department is 'waiting' for information that they don't have or for some other department to act.
3. Briefing meetings. This is when you are working with an external company / contractor and you need to brief them on your requirements. I have found in such situations, the RFP may not be comprehensive enough and so it may be best to spend some time with the sales guy front ending the deal to ensure he has absorbed exactly what you want from the solution.
4. Meetings with important people. This one is bound to be controversial but I feel these meetings need to happen in person. Unfortunately, super important people are super busy. It is very difficult - sometimes near impossible for them to respond to email or to schedule a meeting. My feeling is if you have got a relationship with such a person it is worth your while to head to their office and wait in line to see them.
5. Show of support meetings. This is where you are trying to drive a larger industry wide issue and where it is necessary for a bunch of people from the same Special Interest Group to meet a third party who can make a difference. I feel here things are best done faces to face where they can appreciate that a bunch of high powered people are serious about pushing through an agenda. This is just not effectively done through email.
Ideal Times for such meetings -Social Meetings-45-60mins, All Hands Meetings- 20mins, Briefing Meetings-10mins, Imp people meetings-20mins, Show of support meetings-45mins
I've been recently trying a new strategy to keep meetings short which is to do meetings standing up. I will post my analysis on the effectiveness of this strategy once I have more experience with it.
P.S. I have made some changes to my blog template. Wanted some feedback on how it is displaying in blog readers. Do let me know if you feel your reader is not displaying my posts in a reader friendly manner.