phones meetings

 

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“You know, when I sit in meetings and things are very tense and people take things extremely seriously and they invest a lot of their ego, I sometimes think to myself, ‘Come on, you know, there’s life and there’s death and there is love.’

And all of that ego business is nonsense compared to that.”

 

Christine Lagarde

 

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“Meetings are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything.

 

John Kenneth Galbraith

 

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Watching the debates on television has reminded me about … well … meeting perfect_planplans. As in … walking into a meeting with a plan in mind <sometimes an agenda and sometimes a meeting strategy>.

 

And as I mapped out some of my thoughts I thought I would google ‘meeting plans.’

 

Holy shit.

 

There is a shitload of incredibly bad advice online with regard to business meetings, managing meetings and what you should do when meetings start going bad.

 

What makes it incredibly bad is … well … meetings rarely goes as planned.

 

Ok.

 

Not ‘rarely’ … let’s say ‘never.’

 

So if you are going to judge your meeting against ‘the plan’, some agenda and desired objectives … you may as well go home now and start drinking.

 

Now.

 

That isn’t to say you shouldn’t have a plan. Or have an agenda. Or even some specific objectives for a meeting. There are clearly some basics everyone should do <or it would be considered business malpractice> with regard to any business meeting:

 

    Have a clear idea of why you want to have the meeting.

 

    Define an objective for the meeting.

 

    Develop an agenda, even if it’s loose and only in your head.

 

    Have an idea of what you want to get out of the meeting.

 

    Know the critical things you want to say, communicate, or ask.

 

But, that said, the best meetings don’t follow the plan … they become a little more dynamic moving beyond the simple construct of “how it was supposed to go.’

 

Here is a business truth.

 

Good meetings, more often than not, are like herding squirrels.

 

On the other hand.

 

Bad meetings, more often than not, are like herding dead people.

 

Yeah.

 

Not a lot of people talk about it but meetings that tightly follow an agenda and do not foster a little bit of heated/passionate discussion & debate are more likely to be a bad meeting than a good meeting.

 

Either that or bad unthinking people were in the meeting.

 

In good meetings people have very different views about the topic. They offer a trying thinking planninglot of ideas. Sure. The ideas can be all over the place but … well … ideas are ideas and involvement is good. this means that often a good meeting organically grows & shrinks … and let me tell you … I have never seen a meeting plan or agenda which said “grow here” and “shrink here.”

 

Now.

 

The other thing is meeting pacing.

 

A meeting can lull you into complacency … moving along smoothly … and then … uh oh … somehow some shit appeared and hit the only fan in the room.

Good meetings rarely move along in one gear. They shift gears. Oh. And they shift lanes.

 

Yeah.

 

This is certainly a point in which the meeting can become dangerous and, yes, it can certainly become an emotional/ego mind field and, yes, it is bad if it becomes a demolition derby <I called this ‘managing meeting pivots‘ in my meeting trap post>.

 

But even with all of that … it doesn’t mean the meeting has ‘gone wrong.’

Or that anyone has done anything wrong in the ‘planning.’

 

It just means that the meeting has some life <which is good … and beats the alternative>.

 

Anyway.

 

Good meetings tend to have two things <even if the plan goes awry>:

 

  1. Closure

 

It doesn’t have to be closure on whatever it is the meeting was about.

closure-shut-the-doorIt doesn’t even have to be closure on a ‘list of things to do.’

 

You just need some closure on something.

A good meeting just needs some type of closure on something so that everyone can walk away feeling like something was accomplished.

This is value confirmation.

If there is no closure there is no value <and you won’t care about part 2 of what I am going to say — the story>.

By the way … ‘another meeting’ is not closure. In fact … that, in and of itself, confirms lack of closure. Never agree to another meeting unless it follows “okay, we agreed to do this, this and this … and we will have another meeting on this & this.”

 

Never walk away from a meeting without some closure on something.

 

Never.

 

 

  1. The story.

 

No one should misconstrue this thought as “developing a story for the meeting” in your planning <because you should avoid wasting energy thinking about that … with some rare exceptions>.story is not over punctuation

 

This is … well … what’s the story from the meeting.

 

This is also more important than a shitload of people think it is.

 

Thinking about it while you are in the meeting <or at east being aware of it> means you will decide to not argue & fight & correct every single thing in a meeting.

 

Thinking about it means you will decide to ‘never interrupt the enemy when they are making a mistake” <Napoleon>.

 

Thinking about it means you prioritize what is important as it is being discussed in the here & now <and not because you thought it was going to be important before the meeting>.

 

Thinking about it means you recognize that a meeting is less memorable just because you had some ‘closure items’ … and more memorable for something else.

 

Closure items confirm value in a meeting.

 

The story creates the memory/take away.

 

Think of this as if the press were covering the meeting … what would be the headline and story the next day. Don’t laugh at this thought. Meetings live on way beyond the time everyone gets up and leaves. The better you are at defining the story the better your meetings will be perceived <and talked about>.

 

Now.

 

What is the best thing about these two particular ideas?

 

They adapt to the meeting … they are not defined in some meeting plan.

 

Look.

 

All meetings have a plan … and almost all meetings have their plan fall apart.

planned what happenedAnd when it does the initial feeling is most often a sick, sinking feeling.

 

You know that you are not the only one sitting there going ‘what is going on … and … we’re not making any progress.’

 

The good news?

You are not the only one feeling it.

 

The bad news?

You are most likely partially responsible for the debacle.

 

Inevitably someone, maybe even you, will choose to change some dynamic in the meeting … maybe switch it up a little, switch gears or switch topics. And by altering the flow of the meeting the agenda, the plan, either adapts or gets destroyed … or worse … ignores the realities taking place in a meeting and constricts it.

 

And maybe it is that last point that makes some rigid meeting plan of action/engagement so silly. A plan lives in some speculative reality … the meeting itself depicts reality.

 

I can tell you which should win.

 

I admit.

 

It drives me crazy when someone saysY ‘well, that didn’t go as we planned did it?’

You need to be flexible with regard to your meeting plans as well as flexible with your methods within the meeting itself.

 

Truth.

 

99% of good meetings don’t go as planned.

Period.

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Written by Bruce