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Chuck Hebert

Awesome! I think I was at that meeting :)

Some ideas on how to run an effective meeting! Thanks for the post and the smile.

Chris Witt

I can empathize.

Most meetings over an hour are, in my opinion, counterproductive and painful to sit through. Why have organizations adopted meetings as the main -- if not only -- way of sharing information, encouraging collarboration, and getting the job done?

peter vajda

Hi Steve,

I’ve read this a number of times and something kept tugging on my sleeve.

I get the rant about the inappropriate length and perhaps the “moving-target-type” agenda that didn’t make sense to her.

Other than that, I have a number of curiosities:

1.Why was wine her first choice -to self-medicate? Why not a walk, a run, journaling about her frustrations, meditation, tai-chi, yoga, a nap or just deep breathing? Why alcohol?
2.Does alcohol play a role in her life as a “soothing” approach to upset? If so, why?
3.The fact that she had to think aloud about her drinking (“…isn’t that what alcoholics do...?) might indicate she’s had this thought before about her alcohol use. If that’s the case, she might wish explore that more deeply - the thought, and the use.
4.Did she have any tools over and above her mental dialogue to help her stay “present” during her experience even though she felt frustrated? e.g., journaling her experience, deep breathing, saying some positive affirmations, sensing her body, etc., all tools that would keep her brain from dripping toxins like cortisol into her body as a result of her stress, anger and frustration, toxins that take a toll sooner or later?
5.Has she responded this way in other meetings that were (1) shorter and (2) more on target? In other words, does she have similar reactions to meetings in general as many folks do, or when meetings don’t apply to her, per se – “I do not exaggerate when I say that only 10 minutes of the 3-hour meeting applied to me”? (Granted, it was a waste of time but were there opportunities to learn (for future reference...) even though the content didn’t apply to her directly?)
6.Does she ever get “short” with people in general and judge them negatively or harshly?
7.When she sighs out loud, does she know this is a sign of disrespect and that there’s never a reason (excuses, yes, but never a reason-ever) to be disrespectful? Does she feel like a victim?
8.As for the pangs of fear, is this a common emotional-body reaction for her? Does fear play a larger role in her life, not just at long, drawn-out meetings?

I’ll stop here.

Although she is frustrated, angry and resentful, and the meeting facilitator should have been more up to date on his/her meeting/facilitation skills, my take is she has as much to reflect on as the one who prepared and ran the meeting.

Steve Roesler

Chuck

Book to follow:-)

Steve Roesler

Hi, Chris,

Always good to *see* you and hope all is well out on the Left Coast.

Well, this is a hot button for me. I eventually left daily corporate employment in part because (in my judgment) there were more meetings than results/productivity. Although I have seen well-designed, productive meetings regarding strategy, productive development, and change initiatives last much longer than an hour, the design included more than one presenter as well as pre-work that prompted participants to come prepared with specific info or other input.

Here's an observation, and I'd be curious to know what you are seeing. With the development of audio/video technology, organizations have defaulted in recent years to many more online meetings/information exchanges (which is what most really are). This has been a money-saver on travel and personal wear and tear. However: I'm now seeing a vocal backlash and a call for re-instituting periodic in-person sessions. Predictably, people are missing the face-to-face, over-the-dinner table-and-bar relational aspects of meetings. It's not really the meeting; it's the chance to build closer relationships.

Any thoughts, Chris?

Steve Roesler

Peter

You have, indeed, looked carefully at the email in the post. I will contact the contributor and see what can be discovered.

Courtney Neibel

I like Steve's suggestion of online meetings and information exchanges; I've been to several online meetings and training sessions that I thought were easily accessible, and they kept my interest throughout the session. Also, many online meetings give you the option to join in at your convenience, as well as leave the meeting when you are ready; you don't have to sit through a three-hour meeting like the poor person in the original blog post!

I've also, however, found that information sharing calls can be just as boring as sitting face-to-face with each other, but at least you can leave the call at your convenience if permitted.

Steve Roesler

Courtney

It looks as if the real issue here is taking time to put together a meeting with the right people at the right time using the right information that is valuable to everyone. And not going a moment longer than needed.

Perry James

Sounds like the meeting may have been dragged out to long. Meetings should be planned out and only people who really need the information should be asked to attend. People should not dread going to their meetings.

Steve Roesler

Perry

Based on a side conversation via email with the writer, the 3-hour meeting was, from her perspective, about 2:40 minutes too long. The underlying issue was the meeting leader putting out an agenda stating one purpose, then allowing people to simply talk about whatever they wanted to talk about. The original "issue" was never addressed in depth to the satisfaction of those asked to attend.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Kacey

What would you suggest to do if you find yourself in a meeting like this? (Where the original issue is not being addressed, or the meeting is getting distracted by other matters). Do you say something, or just sit back and watch the hours fly by?

Steve Roesler

Peter,

I have contacted the individual who wrote the email regarding the meeting and had a lengthy conversation. Turns out she has a penchant for edgy humor which, according to her, was set loose in all its glory as a result of the meeting described. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar:-)

Be on the lookout: another meeting has been scheduled this week. I have been informed that there is no agenda because a "senior" person called the meeting. Our writer says that she followed up regarding an agenda; there is none. Employees are supposed to come with "any questions you may have" (no particular subject) because the "senior" person will be here.

Let's see if we have another email following the meeting. . .

Steve Roesler

Kacey, good question.

My personal approach is to speak out, re-state the published purpose of the meeting, and suggest that we get back on track. If the meeting leader/senior person ignores it, then it's time to download some new game apps on the iPhone.

Virginia

Am I the only one who is thinking of a differnt way to handle this situation?
I would have politely said "I apologize as I have some other time sensitive items that I need to attend to. Does anyone need any additional input for me here at this meeting?" At which point hopefully the faciliator says no and then I would have said "no, ok, then I'm going to bow out now and if there is anything that comes up that needs my immediate attention text/call me or let me know after the meeting."
If it was a really large meeting where it would not be appropriate to talk directly to the faciliator, I would have the above dialogue with my boss or whoever it is that was expecting me to be there in that meeting.

Courtney Neibel

I like Steve's answer to Kacey's question. Sometimes it can be difficult to be the one to speak out and get the meeting back on track, but that is a role that is certainly valuable to the meeting group, in my opinion. Someone has to keep us in line!

David M. Kasprzak

We have all seen the best practices for meeting management, and time management. None of those will matter, however, without Respect for People (a Guiding Principle of the Shingo Model for Operatonal Excellence).

If you respect people, you respect their time, and that they don't need to spend 3 hours in a 1-hour meeting. Get them in, get things done, and get them out. Allow the flow of work to continue. Don't put additional pressure on them due to other missed commitments.

If respect for people was a a cornerstone of the meeting initiator's habits, none of the waste would have occurred, and the rest of the best practices would have simply followed.

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