Meetings and Communication – Know What Your Meeting is About.

In meetings and communication, know what your meeting is about.

There are basically 3 types of meetings: Informational, Problem-solving and Idea-generating.

You might say, "Well, my meeting is about Safety Regulations". OK, but is it Safety Regulations Informational? Safety Regulations Problem-Solving? Safety Regulations Idea-Generating?

If you have all three under the same meeting, write your Agenda as: 5 minutes Information, 10 min. Problem-Solving and 15 minutes Idea-Generating, or whatever -- that's why preparation is necessary, these things must be determined ahead of time.

All meetings must be short -- in and out in 30 minutes! Some meetings will need 1 hour, of course, but this should only be when absolutely necessary and fewer and farther apart. A rule of thumb is the longer the meetings, the fewer they are; i.e. weekly meetings: 30 minutes or less. Montly or quarterly meetings could go to 1 hour or 2. Semi-annual, 2-3 hours or ½-day. Yearly meetings, such as conventions, 1 day.

They should be well planned ahead to get to the point fast and to stimulate discussion. The discussions must be well defined, i.e.: "For the next 15 minutes, we will talk about the current annual Sales Goals." "Now for the next 15 minutes, we will discuss the Salary Structure."

List them on the agenda so the people can follow clearly. Lead to get the results you plan or expect and to stay within the time frames allotted, if you cannot achieve this on any one item, move it to another meeting. Be in control!

Meetings are terrific opportunities to get communication flowing among the people. Bring some donuts, be positive, get to the point. Move fast. Let them leave the meeting fired up -- not dragged down. All the while, you are training others to do the same!

Failure to control meetings is a demonstration of mismanagement on the part of the individual doing the meeting and the whole corporation behind him or her. 


Meetings and Communication – Preparation is King!

In meetings and communication, preparation is King!

In the previous blog we saw the director of a large company department call out a meeting and then show up late “because he had forgotten!”

Then, what happened next is even more amazing. The director began to pull out the slide projector from the back of the room, fighting his way through the crowded area. He finally got it plugged in, turned on the light and placed the first slide of the new organization on, but nothing showed up on the wall.

Realizing the projector was on backward, he struggled some more to get it right, etc. This is a true story in a world-class company and that individual was the head of that gathered department.

Some people believe that arriving late at a meeting is a sign of importance. No, it's not. And it's not a manipulative tool to show how big one is. We earn our respect by being on time, by respecting other people's time. It is not fair to those who have been invited to attend, and who have phone calls to make and work to do. Continuous training is done by our behaviour, by being efficient in our roles as managers.

Then we have those who think that running late at every checkpoint of a meeting is also a sign of "bigness". Well, it is only a sign of disorganization, sloppiness or not being in control. And, the best way to discourage people from coming to your meetings is to do just that. On the contrary, if you finish a couple of minutes earlier... there will be excitement and appreciation, and people will not be afraid to come to your meetings again.

Any kind of meetings, be it seminars, sales presentations, workshops, conventions -- must commence and end at the pre-determined and announced time. They must be on target with the agenda, and fast-moving.

First, there must be an agenda -- never have a meeting without one. It should outline briefly why the meeting is being held, what the goal or result is expected to be, and it should break down the subjects and activities in 5- or 10-minute increments.

And this requires preparation ahead of time.

There are basically 3 types of meetings… we will look at them in the next blog.


Meetings and Communication – Short and On-Time!

Meetings and Communication should be short and on time!

"Holding meetings" is a misunderstood concept. When we say that regular meetings are necessary for effective communication, it does not mean that one has to find extra days to fit them in. This is why many managers don’t like meetings.

Most meetings waste more time than they should. Why? Because they are not planned properly. The majority of meetings in companies could be cut by 50%. The presentations are usually too long, move too slowly and contain redundant material.

In writing, the key to good writing is "edit, edit, edit -- each time slashing off 20% until there is nothing to slash off any more. In the same way presentations for meetings should be prepared.

What normally happens in companies is the one calling the meeting goes over the scheduled time; there is no justification for that, no matter how one makes it out to sound. A meeting that goes beyond its announced time at any point, simply means the one holding the meeting has no control of it and has not prepared for it.

Meetings must be kept on schedule. They simply must! Even for bosses. Some time ago, I was present in a department meeting that was called by the director of a large department. People gathered in, the group built up in numbers, but the director didn't show up. After some fifteen minutes, people started to ask what was going on and the secretary went out to make a phone call. She returned to say that he was on his way.

When he arrived he simply said that he had completely forgotten. Where do they get that? They read somewhere that they should be honest and truthful with their people -- problem is these things are taken and practiced out of context.

Yes, the new management style is to be honest and truthful but this means with appropriate behaviour -- in this case, we have to make sure we're on time for our own meetings as managers. Saying you forgot you had called a meeting is not a way to lead by example and train people.

Here were twenty-some people being trained that you can be late for meetings and it doesn't matter, all we have to say is "I'm sorry, I forgot".

That’s the first lesson… in the next blog, wait and see what happened next!


Meetings and Communication – “Regular” is the Key

In meetings and communication – “Regular” is the Key.Often, the remedy for many problems in miscommunication is to hold simple regular staff meetings, where people sit down together and talk about the plans or the challenges.

But the key is to sit down with a goal in mind, a planned agenda and an organized leadership. The question "Why is there so much material waste in the production area?" requires listening to those who work with the material: "Here, come with me and I’ll show you". Then go and listen. Then brainstorm together.

Truly, a few minutes of meeting time will prevent hours and days of destructive staff and customer dissatisfaction.

After the hiring, one important ingredient of good communication in personnel management is for managers/supervisors to provide regular meetings to discuss performance and expectations.

"Regular" is the key word here. It is mind-boggling how few places do that. I personally do not recall anywhere I've worked at where this was done. There were meetings, but not regularly.

But when I've operated my own business, no matter how small it was, I learned to have meetings with even the people of the lowest levels, even trainees on government sponsored programs. It created an atmosphere of openness and trust and understanding. This was the time for anyone to talk about what troubled them, what frustrated them over coffee and donut provided by the company.

More on holding meetings in the next blog.