I become more and more skeptical about meetings. Each year I spend in work make me more suspicious about meeting invitations.

I read an article about meetings as complete time and money wasters. Jeff Haden’s opinion is that 99% of the meetings are a waste of money for the company. The author seems to be very strict, but all in all he seems to be right.

He didn’t mention this, but I think that the meeting facilitator has a crucial role where the meeting is going to. I have a growing conviction of that an autocratic way of meeting facilitation is necessary. Unless all the participants are really (beware! buzzword!) mindful about the goals of the meeting and the ways how an effective meeting should be organized (most probably it shouldn’t be organized at all).

Laissez-faire management style for a meeting facilitator is just not a viable option. So what you shouldn’t let happen in a meeting?

  • Don’t let people discuss in groups. There should be exactly one people speaking at the room. Stop right there, use the power of silence. If the discussion goes on, raise your voice a bit or just ask the speaking group what are they talking about.

  • Don’t go over the same topics again and again. Once you finished discussing made a decision on a topic, don’t touch it again just because some people do not agree or they just love their voice. If you let this happen, you will have group discussions, your meeting is dead! Don’t forget you need a decision, not a lukewarm agreement of everyone.

  • If the most creative and best people of yours go silent or into a state of meditation or if they hide behind their laptops (or even worse: behind their phones), you’re in a deep trouble. Have a break, finish the meeting, whatever. Ask yourself or the others what is wrong. Believe me something it is.

I also think that many people just want to make up for a bad social life. They think that their office is a place for socialization and they talk at meetings as much as they can, because out of office, most probably nobody will really listen to them. This is harsh, but think about it. Normally you don’t go to the office to socialize, you go there to deliver value. Just like you don’t go to the doctor to gossip. I mean normally.

If you experience these problems ask yourself what did you do wrong. Because you did, meeting facilitation is not an easy job, only a few master it. I have to learn it too.