By Cameron Herold
No matter who you are or what role you play, there’s a fair chance you’ll be involved in a meeting. The challenge with meetings today is that they suck. They suck time, energy and purpose.
In Cameron Herold’s new book, Meetings Suck, he argues that the way we run meetings determines all success. And he should know the importance of meetings when building a great culture, given that he is one of the founding fathers of 1800 Got Junk, the US juggernaut that’s one of America’s great entrepreneurial success stories.
Whether you attend or run a meeting, you have to contribute in a positive, meaningful way. It requires you to have a give-and-take approach, where you gain value from being present and you give value by speaking up.
Every meeting must have an agenda, so participants can understand the flow of the meeting, and get this, not every person needs to attend every part of a meeting; only the bits relevant to them and their role, or broader company vision-type stuff. It also must have a purpose – one sentence that tells people exactly why they’re asked to attend.
Ever wondered why some people speak up in the meeting, while others seem to hide? He argues that there are up to four types of people in any meeting:
- Dominant – individuals who are assertive and strong with driven personalities
- Expressive – extroverts who are animated, talk with their hands and think aloud
- Analytical – think through their answers before speaking
- Amiable – individuals who avoid conflict and tend to get along in a passive manner.
Just like a play, your organisation needs every single person for the show to go on, but not everyone needs to be on stage at the same time.
Every meeting must have a clear agenda, which should be distributed to attendees in advance: it must include the length of time each item is up for discussion. In addition, for each agenda item you must decide the type of interaction required. Is it:
- Information sharing – used for weekly updates, new ideas or to provide feedback
- Creative discussion – brainstorming, throwing out ideas, and getting peoples opinions
- Consensus decisions – designed to enable the group to reach a decision.
Each meeting then requires four roles to be assigned before the meeting starts, outside of Participants – people who arrive and are prepared to contribute for the duration of the meeting:
- The Moderator – meeting chairperson who is tasked with ensuring everyone stays on track
- The Parking Lot – person who keeps a notepad on good ideas which were raised but which couldn’t be discussed because they weren’t on topic
- The Timekeeper – ensures each agenda item is covered in the proper order and within the time allocated
- The Closer – person who assigns duties and timelines at the end of the meeting.
And you’ll love this: the expectation is that turning up five minutes prior to the meeting is considered late. You need to be there well prior, in the room with tea or coffee in hand ready to proceed. All meetings need to finish five minutes earlier than their scheduled finish time.
Meetings Suck is an incredibly refreshing read around one of the most important elements of any fast paced company. The more regularly you meet, the faster you pulse and the quicker your company grows.