I’ve been in more meetings than is probably healthy. Here are five things that you should not do in the meeting if the meeting is to have value.
1 – Never Answer the Phone, Text, Browse the Web, or Play Games
I’ve been in a lot of meetings where a person, or even the person driving the meeting answers their phone and worse, sometimes takes the call in the meeting room. This not only shows a lack of respect, but if it is your meeting, shows the meeting is not that important. If it is less important than a phone call, then why hold it at all? Don’t waste people’s time with your calls, personal or not.
Many people use a meeting to text, or surf the web, or play games. Usually this is because the person doesn’t know why they are part of the meeting, doesn’t feel invested in the subject, or have been forced to attend. Make sure the people attending are really needed in the meeting.
2 -Never Expect To Remember What Was Said
Nowadays meetings are less formal than in the past. There is no one taking “minutes”, and rarely are there set topics. However, there should be some sort of record of what the meeting accomplished and what needs to be done as a result. You may think you’ll remember, but odds are you won’t. Recording lets you replay the meeting. This can help in clarifying your thoughts or how you interpret what was said. Distance in time can help understanding.
3 – Never Nap
Yes, I’ve seen this. This usually occurs after lunch in a crowded room with poor ventilation or all day meetings. Make sure the room is well ventilated. The other reason may be due to the meeting’s content or discussions not applying to the napper. If you feel yourself dozing off, ask for a bathroom break, and head outside for a minute for some fresh air and to clear your mind. If you’re dozing off, odds are others are as well and would welcome a break.
4 – Never Try to Build Consensus
Often a meeting starts out as planned, and then devolves into members trying to come to agreement amongst the stakeholders. This may even progress to arguments. Some of the people in attendance are not decision makers or stakeholders. A consensus building meeting is fine if everyone attending has an interest and has the power to implement the outcome. A targeted meeting isn’t the place or time. If you are a decision maker, don’t waste ever one else’s time.
5 – Never Leave Without Your Own Action Items
Again meetings are lot more informal now. If nothing results from a meeting, the meeting was useless. A lot of times there is either verbal direction or agreement as to what needs to happen as a follow up. At a minimum you need to write down what you are expected to do. Follow up with an email verifying your understanding of what is expected of you. A written commitment is always better than a verbal agreement, and sets the proper levels of expectation.
Paying attention and focusing in a meeting will make it worthwhile and make you more productive as a result.