Meetings What’s the point?
They are decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent. -Sir Winston Churchill
Discussion in pairs • What are the characteristics of some of the best meetings you have been to? • What are the characteristics of some of the worst meetings you have been to? • Share two or three points on each to the group.
Meetings • The time we spend at them • Different kinds of meetings • Challenges in meetings • The effect of the collective • Different kinds of participation in meetings • Agendas • Control
Time • Look at your diaries for the last month • Add up the number of hours you have spent in meetings • Identify the meeting you attended with the most participants. Give them an hourly rate: • average £8 per hour Calculate the cost of each meeting: =Number of participants X (Their time spent at the meeting + Their time spent getting there + Their time spent preparing and following up + Their expenses (travel, childcare etc))
Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.Carl Sandburg
Why do people go to meetings? Brainstorm: As a substitute for action To delay taking action To avoid individual accountability To include others “Because we always have” or Because the cause is worth the effort A range of individuals have something to contribute Because the group is worth being with
Things happen in meetings • To give or exchange information • To create or develop ideas • To decide on goals or issues • To delegate • To share tasks • To persuade, involve or co-opt others • To inspire • To build or maintain relationships • To socialise or have fun • To consult
planning meetings • Limit the number of functions in one meeting • When moving from one function to another, make that clear, allowing a break between items if necessary • Participants need to know when to play their role in each function
planning meetings • Limit the number of tasks • Limit the number of participants to those who are needed, will contribute, or who can’t be left out • Prepare more, meet less
is a group the sum of the individuals present? • Groups can lead each other to confirm shared positions rather than consider external perspectives or challenging information • Collectively, people can ignore their individual accountability or responsibility • Individuals may meet as a group but not have a shared agenda or vision Experience + knowledge + status + ability = collective stupidity
is a group the sum of the individuals present? • Communication and miscommunication • Outside pressures • Personal agendas • Insecurity and need for affirmation • Mood • Competition • Distraction • Triviality and avoidance
Who are the individuals present?Types • Initiator +ve ideas -ve ego • Orienter +ve steers on track -ve not adventurous • Facilitator +ve clarifies, interprets -ve may not decide • Reconciler +ve defuses tension - ve need sense of timing • Supporter +ve positive, encouraging -ve avoids hard choices
Who are the individuals present?Types • Aggressor +ve critic, questions -ve co-opt by including early • Player +ve distracts, disengages -ve ensure personal interest • Know it all +ve seeks control -ve seek prior discussion • Social leader +ve good before and after -ve ensure they keep to process • Process leader +ve seek order, focus, schedule -ve may lack social skills
Using types • Try and match individual type to meeting type • Play to people’s strengths • Stay solution focused – the problem is the problem
Other techniques- meetings as theatre • Get good early reviews • Plan your supporting cast and ensure they know their roles • Allies • Good cop / bad cop • Use props • Consider seating
The agenda • Provides status and legitimacy • Is the meeting controller’s road-map • Is the meeting participant’s crystal ball
The agenda • Start with a warm-up issue • Place harder tasks next • Have a warm-down issue • Build in breaks • Break between functions
Preparation • Imagine • Ask questions – purpose, roles, desired outcomes • Do your homework • Ask others to do theirs • Anticipate
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. Eleanor Roosevelt
Speak when you're angry,and you'll make the best speech you'll ever regret.Lawrence J. Peter
To disagree with three-fourths of the British public is one of the first requisites of sanity. Oscar Wilde
When two men in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary. William Wrigley Jr.
A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled. Sir Barnett Cocks