By Bill Choate
Collegiate Ministries director, Tennessee Baptist Mission Board
The application of that statement is universal, and it certainly applies to meetings. Meetings are important. That’s where organizational direction is set, decisions are made, groups get on the same page, and meetings offer an opportunity for clear communication and immediate feedback. However, when you’re meeting, you’re not working on the tasks that probably resulted from the last meeting.
Look at it this way. Law firms bill by the hour. Consider if you have several attorneys in a two-hour meeting huddled around their conference room table. Tick-tock, tick-tock…the meter is running but not making any money. Depending on the firm, the cost of that meeting could be over $15,000.
Your organization’s hourly billing rates may not be as high, but when meetings are not effectively managed, the cost in time and morale can be substantial. Unproductive virtual meetings are no less detrimental than poorly run physical meetings. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you send out that next online meeting invitation.
Agenda. A meeting without an agenda is not a meeting. It’s something else.
Moderator. All teams have one or two members who are “generous contributors.” If one team member dominates or uses more time than is productive, we can’t fully blame the talker. This is the responsibility of the moderator. Healthy meetings require an active moderator who will graciously but quickly redirect and limit conversation where necessary. It’s typically necessary. Team members will applaud you.
Standup. Let’s learn to think about the online meeting, when appropriate, as a standup meeting. Many of us have learned to use the time-limited, action-oriented standup meeting in the physical office. These often start with the question, “May I have three minutes of your time for these two questions?” Standing shows respect for everyone’s time yet allows for required interaction on an issue. When the questions are answered, you conclude the meeting.
Prune. Always ask yourself who is necessary. Are you asking people to spend time in your meeting who are not essential to this task, or to this task at this time? Fewer people may accomplish more and will waste less resource doing it.
Replace. If the meeting can be replaced with something less intrusive, substitute. Would a short, clear, direct email replace this meeting? Would a text or a phone call?
Cancel. Always ask yourself the question – Is this meeting necessary at this time? If not, don’t meet. Another important question to ask yourself is – is the meeting already scheduled still necessary? If not, cancel. It’s possible you need to poll the team before cancelling but, if it’s not necessary, they will appreciate the cancelled meeting notice. More applause.
Collaboration is crucial and can’t be accomplished without the connecting of people. Let’s connect people well and show respect to everyone’s time and commitments. B&R