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  • Writer's pictureSarah Cleaver MA CPsychol AFBPsS

Meetings. Time to rethink?

Meetings. We love them. Don't we?

How long do you spend in meetings in an average month?

I thought I would share some thoughts about how to "do meetings" better, saving time and frustration - but keeping the "good energy" that sometimes comes from them.

Firstly: Do we need to have this meeting? What is it's purpose?

I attended a talk, years ago, by the amazing Psychologist, Alison Hardiman. She said: If you are meeting to share information - save time, send the information in another format. If you are meeting to decide something, save time, send the information needed for the decision in advance. Then, agree some rules. The chair shouldn't let the meeting descend into locked-horns conflict - that just wastes time. Instead, they should ensure that everyone has a fair chance to put their point of view. If there's no consensus on the decision, then the chair should decide, and explain their reasons clearly. Controversial, or what?

Secondly: What's the agenda? This needs to be written down and sent with the invite and any supporting documents. Have you ever thought about sending it as a mind-map? You can easily attach the documents to the topics, organise the topics by priority, and even colour-code the topics and show the links between them. Then, during the meeting, you could add text notes showing decisions taken - and export those from the mind map into a document or even a task list.

Thirdly: Are the right people there? Are ALL of the right people there? And if they do need to be there, have they had time to prepare?

Lastly: What if it's a non-conventional, exploratory conversation that needs to happen? Open Space is the technique to try here - it allows meaningful conversations to happen in a rapid, structured way. But that's a conversation for another day; I want to keep these blog posts short - just a little something to help you think differently about your working world.

So: If you wanted to "fix" something about your meetings experience, what would that be?

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