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meeting communication

Another “Useless” Meeting? Maximize your Team ROI and Create Group Genius Sessions

With all the channels available to communicate online, is there any reason to meet face to face?  The answer to this question is important when billing for, or paying for, professional services. For businesses, any waste of time is a waste of money, so it is a question worth contemplation.

Meetings Need a Specific Strategy and Goal meeting communication

Advocates may suggest meetings are important to have because things get lost or can’t effectively be communicated through a screened device.  It takes face-to-face conditions to read body language, build relationships and establish rapport.  As a concession to eliminating meetings to save staff time, the strategy is to use meetings sparingly and keep them under control with hard start and stop times.  While this approach appears viable, these types of meetings usually turn out to be counterproductive because the accelerated pace does not feel natural and makes people feel uncomfortable. Rushing meetings cause anxiety and defeat the tangential benefits of face-to-face interactions.  

When critical factors needed to succeed are eliminated, reduced, or significantly altered, the essence of the meeting’s intent becomes something different than was intended.  Consider it this way: cutting essentials from a meeting is as useful as trying to cut costs by removing springs from a diving board.  Once eliminated, a diving board is just a board, and if you use a plain board for diving, you could cause harm by jumping on it.  Shortcuts and sub-optimal arrangements frequently result in “savings” that are more costly to staff time and overall results in the long run.

When you remove essentials such as substantial time or the “right” people from a meeting, you not only reduce its effectiveness but take a chance that the results from this truncated gathering will do more harm than good. Rushed meetings lack flow and lead to misunderstandings.  Leaving out essential team members means decreasing the effectiveness of the meeting, causing delays and a need to add even more meetings to the calendar to get everyone on the same page. There needs to be a specific strategy to each meeting put on the calendar, with the necessary people involved, the goals spelled out, and the proper time allotted to draw the most skill and creativity from those present. A meeting without an intended outcome is just a discussion, which doesn’t require face-to-face interaction since it has no scaleable ROI.  

Enhancing Meeting ROI

Meetings are understandably very expensive due to the cost of each attendee’s time.  For example, if three people from an agency meet for one hour, the client is billed for three hours of time.  When meetings conclude without producing a value, the result is wasted time that could have been used to generate a positive outcome elsewhere.  However, if the result of a meeting cleared or avoided potential confusion; made a correction that would otherwise have been overlooked; created new insights that helped lead to some future savings, or advanced the project in quantum leaps, the meeting was a great investment.

For clients to receive the most value from the time their agency bills out, meetings should be held for the purposes of clarifying what could not be eliminated through remote communication; explaining or addressing sensitive, complex, or involved problems; brainstorming or collaborating on something new that depends on group dynamics for success; or conducting research, such as the case with ethnography, observing a sequence of events.

Evolve from Meetings to Group Genius Sessions

Imagine if attendees collaborated openly, connected the group’s insights to transform the collective input into something more valuable than any one individual would have generated themselves.  Imagine if people stopped meeting unnecessarily to do things they could have done independently through electronic channels, but gathered to form a brain trust and leverage the power of the group. Would it be unreasonable to meet with the aim of creating synergies and crafting an outcome together?

Before calling or attending another meeting, consider creating a group genius session using these guidelines:

  • Vet out “empty suits” so everyone present collaborates and interacts.   Anyone that just criticizes without contributing – despite their title – is banished from the meeting.  
  • Everyone in attendance knows the goals of the meeting and wants to share their perspective.  
  • Check all titles and egos at the door.  The focus is on building, growing, challenging, and strengthening, or challenge and redirect.  
  • Meetings should be regarded in a positive context with the residual byproduct of team building

If the meetings you orchestrate could accelerate the process and prevent lags, increase the quality of outcome by reducing errors, or lead to breakthrough thinking that leads to a higher level of performance, then meetings should be held daily. In the end, the question is not “Should we have meetings?”, but “How could we get the most ROI out of any meeting that we have?”

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