I started this post a month ago and have written and re-written it numerous times. I've been trying to come up with eloquent ways to talk about how to improve meetings. But I seem uninspired by that and would rather just pine about the things that bother me instead. What I think would improve meetings the most would be to infuse some rigorousness into the way we schedule and conduct meetings. Without further adieu, here are my top-5 complaints about meetings:
1. Let's Begin! Isn't it annoying when you take time out of your busy day to walk down to a conference room (or call into a bridge line) and then have to wait around until everyone else decides to show up (call in)? I worked with a guy once that began meetings exactly at the scheduled time regardless of who was or was not in attendance. That's pretty rigorous, but I admire that.
2. Wake up! I am the first to find humor in the fact that a colleague is desperately trying to stay awake - droopy eyes, head bobbing, the whole bit - but it also frustrates me. Seeing that just makes you wonder if the whole meeting is just one big waste of time.
3. Pay attention! This includes me. Having people not paying attention, especially while on conference calls, is a real meeting downer. If people are not paying attention it usually means one of the following is true: the meeting is going too long, the meeting has lost its focus, there are too many unnecessary people involved or all of the above.
4. Do we really need a full hour? I think by default most people just schedule meetings for an hour. Perhaps some people view meetings as a reprieve from real work, so an hour break appeals to them. I'm not sure, but I do know that most meetings could be held to 30-minutes, if appropriate rigor is applied.
5. Time's up! No one likes a meeting that will not end. Not ending a meeting on time shows a lack of consideration for everyone's schedule. To me, this is most annoying when it is a meeting at the end of the day that makes me late for getting home.
I'm not proposing a militant working atmosphere, but I do think applying some measure of rigorousness to the whole meeting process would help us have fewer meetings, shorter meetings and get more out of the meetings we endure.