And the Meeting Goes Round and Round...

And the Meeting Goes Round and Round...

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“Going around in circles” - to keep talking about the same thing without achieving anything.

"Going around in circles" is a simple phrase that we have all used out of frustration. How many times have you felt you were in a meeting that was going around in circles? Let’s face it...most meetings we attend are unstructured, uninspiring and UNPRODUCTIVE!

The true definition of a meeting is a group of people who come together because of a supposed common goal. Meetings are intended to be productive and a means to move a project forward. People do their best work together when the purpose is clear and there are agreed upon working practices. Routine meetings without clear goals can become mind-numbing. So what can we do to turn a boring, going nowhere meeting into a productive one?

First ask yourself, what is the purpose of your meeting? Are you giving an update on a project? Are your planning an implementation? Are you working through issues within a project? By reviewing these questions in your head you define the type of meeting you need to have.

There are many types of meetings, problem solving, decision-making, feedback, status, etc., but all meetings fall into two categories: planning and working.

Often we try to combine a planning meeting and working meeting into one “combination meeting”, but in doing so the focus of the meeting can be lost quickly. If you have to combine the two it is best to break your meeting in to segments. Plan what needs to be accomplished by making an action items list and then spending the rest your time working through the list. But even this has many drawbacks.

Planning and working at the same time can cause you to dwell on items that you don’t have a full solution for yet. Or you may realize that other items must be accomplished before the one you are working on. Your debate over what needs to be done ends up taking 45 minutes of the hour scheduled for the meeting nothing get accomplished at all.

The bottom line is not to schedule meetings just because you think there needs to be one. Be accountable for peoples’ time, be accountable for the company’s time and plan before you schedule.

  • Set a firm agenda - send it to everyone before the meeting so they can prepare their talking points
  • Assign someone to take notes - you don’t realize what you miss sometimes
  • Be aware of the time - if it’s an hour meeting, stick to it
  • Stay on task - people love to wander during meetings - appoint someone to bring the meeting back to center and table the discuss for the end
  • If there are issues on the agenda that you know will need their own time - schedule time within the meeting for a mini discussion

A meeting is only as good as the planning that goes into it. Use others’ time wisely.

~Kristen Price