9 Practical tips to not get consumed by internal meetings
In everyday life at corporations, it is very easy to be extremely busy, without necessarily creating anything of value. (By value I mean something that is truly useful to your clients, colleagues and customers.) Monetary value is an accompanying result, not an end goal in itself. (See this post for more on value creation from an agile perspective.)
Even though exchanging ideas and meeting with co-workers is important, my goal is to spend a significantly larger portion of my time with clients, designing solution options for their needs and progressing strategic topics. There are important exceptions, (internal trainings), but spending a lot of time in discussion with my coworkers, seems like our company revolving around its own axis. I know you have also been in those dreaded “death by PowerPoint” meetings, where the only perceivable value is going over internal hype or boosting the presenters ego.
How to escape this? Here are 9 tips which will make a difference:
- Set internal meeting times as short as possible. 10-20 Minutes is enough for most topics and will ensure everyone stays on point.
2. The criteria for joining a meeting is: do I deliver value or are there key take aways for me? If there is nothing useful you can add or learn, your time is better spent elsewhere.
3. Generously block time in your calendar for working on strategic topics.
4. When you accept deadlines or customer meetings, immediately block the needed prep time in your calendar.
5. Refuse to join any meetings where there is no agenda in advance.
6. Every meeting should result in mutually agreed, actionable to-dos.
7. One person should have the lead for ensuring an action item is completed, with support where needed.
8. The next time you get invited to a follow up meeting, check what has been completed. If the answer is "Well........" explain the previously agreed to-dos should be significantly progressed, for further meetings not to be a waste of time.
9. Don't let your meetings run over: Reduce the standard outlook time slot suggestions 5 minutes by default, using this nifty workflow.
I hope these tips help you to stay focussed on that which is important to you and of value to your clients and organization. As important as internal communication is, in a business context there should always be a clear path to value.
Conversation for conversation's sake is great when you have the time and choose to interact this way. However, it shouldn't become mandatory and hinder you from being able to complete your work to a high standard without sacrificing time with your family, friends and nurturing your mind and body.
Having said all this, interacting with clients and co-workers on topics without a direct business context is rewarding and also important. I simply find it is more effective to separate these two modes of interaction for the most effective outcomes.