Meeting Abuse

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BART CLEVELAND: I recently had a friend from another agency e-mail me begging me to write about meeting abuse. I have to agree that some agencies seem to feel they are not being effective unless they have a meeting to plan meetings about how to have meetings.

Fortunately my partners and I all have a low tolerance for meetings that last longer than absolutely necessary. We have a partner meeting every week and it tickles me to watch each of us fidget in our chairs in anticipation of getting back to the work. So I don’t have the pain my friend does. But I will make an appeal on his behalf because I know that there are many others out there who are enduring the same torture.

One way I find to facilitate meetings is to have them in uncomfortable positions. Make everyone stand while you meet or maybe hold your meeting in a hallway. Whatever helps accomplish what needs to be accomplished is a good way to have meeting. We have a client that requires a ten-minute break for every 50 minutes they meet. We’ve had some all day planning meetings with them and the breaks were very effective in keeping everyone fresh and effective.

Another solution to keeping meetings effective is don’t invite too many people in a meeting. We have a bit a disagreement about this here but my feeling is if you don’t have a role in the meeting you’re wasting your time as well as the time of those who are truly needed in the meeting. Allow your employees the privilege of asking what their roles are in the meeting. If one can’t be found they should be able to decline the invite.

I know we’re a business that requires meetings, but I also know that meeting abuse is something that can easily become habit. We all know that meeting abuse drains employees of energy, motivation and good will toward their agency. It just isn’t a smart way to be good at advertising.
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