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Christopher Thompson's Closing the Deal: Adjourn meetings with no purpose

January 13. 2018 11:18PM

Every day, there is something that happens within every organization: People get together and talk. Most people refer to these types of events as meetings. While that's the preferred name, most people call them a complete waste of time.

Think about it. How many meetings have you attended where absolutely nothing was accomplished. People get together in a room, talk about a bunch of things, but nothing gets done as a result of the time spent. It happens more than you realize; I've seen this problem run rampant, even in the most successful and sophisticated companies.

In sales and business, one of the only things you have complete and total control over is your time. And unfortunately, when you get pulled into useless meetings, you've lost complete control of your time, and time is often wasted.

I'm not saying every meeting is a waste of time. Of course, there are necessary and productive meetings that need to take place, and that's a given. But one thing that is important to do is really consider the purpose of the meeting and most importantly, whether it really is needed.

Here are a few suggestions on ways you can make your meetings more productive - and also help you determine if a meeting is even necessary.

Define the purpose and objective 

What is the reason for the meeting? Is it to share important company updates? Is it to brainstorm on finding a solution to a complex problem? Is it to review numbers and performance? No matter the reason, having a defined purpose for why the meeting is being held and what you expect to be accomplished as a result of the meeting is a critical and simple first step. And everyone attending the meeting should be clear on what the purpose and objectives are.

Have an agenda 

This may sound like a basic thing, and it really is. But I can't tell you how many meetings I've attended that have no agenda. People show up, and there is no structure. People don't know what to expect, and the majority of time, these are the meetings that people determine to be a waste of time. An agenda also allows you to keep the discussion on track and focused on the key points that need to be discussed. Make sure the agenda is sent out before the meeting so people can prepare and come to the meeting in the right mindset.

Stay on track

It's common for people to get sidetracked and start discussing things that are unrelated to the purpose and objectives of the meeting. Side discussions start to happen, and the next thing you know, you're talking about something completely unrelated to the original purpose of the meeting. It's important to keep people on track and squash discussions that don't relate to what you're meeting about.

Evaluate frequency 

A lot of teams have recurring meetings scheduled. Examples include daily stand-ups, weekly sales meetings and quarterly reviews. The reality is, some meetings don't need to happen as often as they do. Evaluate the results of the meetings, and ask the tough question. Do we really need to meet as often as we are or could we reduce the frequency? It all depends on what is needed, but chances are, some of those recurring meetings that clog your calendar can be reduced or eliminated.

Rate the meetings

We do this for all of our meetings, and it's actually interesting and helpful. After the meeting is finished, go around and ask the participants to rate the meeting on a scale of 1 to 10. Document the ratings people give and spend time talking about low ratings if people give them.

What could be done differently? How could we make the meeting more effective? What could we do better?

Meetings happen. But meetings that are a waste of time don't need to happen. Be the one to challenge meeting happy people and push your team to be respectful of the most important asset you all have. Time.

Christopher Thompson ( is the vice president of business development at Talient Action Group in Manchester. Closing the Deal appears weekly.

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