Fresh out of college I moved to a new town and stumbled into the underwriting department of an insurance company. I was nervously excited to attend my first “official” meeting in corporate America. The entire team of underwriters and assistants (me) met with our boss, the VP of Underwriting.
Here’s the scene. Windowless room, long table, cushy high back chairs. We sit down. Idle chatter amid the underwriters. The Veep comes in, sits down and looks around. “Well?” he says. The underwriters look blindly back at him. “What are we here to talk about?” Again, blank stares and stumbling of words. This is when it got interesting. Now, this isn’t going to be an exact quote, but I think I remember it pretty well:
The Veep yells, “You all wanted this expletive meeting! YOU called for it. If you don’t know what the expletive you need to talk about, and you can’t put together a simple expletive list of things you need to talk about, why the expletive am I here? I am not coming to another expletive meeting unless there is a expletive agenda!!!!”
That was the end of the meeting. 45 seconds by my recollection. (And just for personal clarification, this was truly one of the best groups of people I ever worked with, Veep included. You were a great boss, Craig!)
People get into ruts with meetings and become slaves to Outlook and its calendaring and reminders. “It’s on my calendar, I have to have a meeting!” I also tend to think people have meetings either to get away from their desks for a while, or because they have nothing better to do. That is not right.
And without a solid agenda, your meeting will become 20% moderately important information and 80% wasted time. If you can’t write out a list of topics that you need team input on, don’t have a meeting. Also, if you have fluff topics that can be solved with a phone call or email to one person, don’t have a meeting. There is nothing worse than calling a meeting and only needing to speak with one person. (This is especially annoying when you walked across a street and through three buildings to get to the meeting, only to leave five minutes later.)
Let’s recap: #1 – If you want a meeting, have an agenda. #2 – If you can’t add anything of value to build an agenda, don’t have a meeting. #3 – Don’t let recurring calendar announcements dictate your productivity!
25+ years of business experience. 12+ years of virtual experience.