Although we are wired to find reassurance and security in face-to-face interactions, it doesn't make meetings any less time-consuming. Being able to spot when you can swap a meeting for an email can make all the difference.
At Mäd, client facing makes up 20% of our work but takes up 80% of our time. Our clients love meetings and it's understandable why. Meetings can be productive.
However, unless done correctly, it could end up being nothing short of the opposite. On top of being a meme, a quick google search of 'meetings quotes' generates only negative results ridiculing meetings.
'A meeting is an event at which the minutes are kept and the hours are lost'.
You get the idea.
It's indeed alarming how common and relatable the occurrence is. While we're constantly pioneering the next best service or technology to automate in order to free up our time for better things, we still find ourselves trapped in monotonous meetings, which make all our inventive efforts seem rather ironic.
It has become a necessary skill to be able to spot the warning signs of futile meetings, in order to navigate and liberate ourselves from the global phenomenon.
The Warning Signs.
#1 You need answers / clarifications / feedback /updates
#2 You're stuck
It's tempting to call for a meeting if you need answers (/ clarifications / feedback / updates). Especially if those answers are causing you to be 'stuck' in a task and unable to move forward.
However, a meeting may not be the best way to get the answers you need. Meetings are generally very time consuming. Known as a 'setup time', a meeting that is 30 minutes, actually could have a setup time of 1 hour or more, when considering commuting time to and from the meeting place, etc.
The mere act of asking 'is there a better way to obtain this information?' can present alternatives to save us a lot of time, energy and money.
How To Navigate This.
Having learnt the warning signs, the next step would be to know how to navigate futile meetings. This is where emails come in as the hero, contrary to their old-fashioned reputation.
(Emails are used here for illustrative purposes only. This applies to all other communication channels i.e. group chats or better yet, Bloo—our very own project management tool that keeps us all aligned and killed the need for a group chat.
One of the ways you can use emails to counteract futile meetings is through asking for an agenda. When you ask for an agenda, your recipients are forced, by default, to define the desired outcome of a meeting. More often than not, through the process of defining the desired outcome, a solution might even resurface itself, or at least simplifies the situation to an extent. That's the magical power of writing. It organizes information in ways that make it easier for our brain to process—comparable to tidying your room and finding that your 'lost' keepsake has been there the whole time.
At Mäd, our agenda is a Six Pager comprised of Purpose, Narrative, Problems, Solutions, Recommendation & Plan of actions. Our blueprint to ensure that meetings are as productive as can be.
The allure of meeting is so powerful. It's nobody's fault. Our nature as homo sapiens means we are wired to seek social connections; and meetings, being a face-to-face interaction, offer us the much needed sense of security and reassurance.
If you ever must call for a meeting, a foolproof rule of thumb is to never do so without an agenda.
Lost time is never found again. - Benjamin Franklin
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