Our webinar Nobody Really Hates Meetings on June 25 at 2 pm Eastern will show you how to create meetings people want to attend. It’s free, but virtual seats are limited. So sign up today!

book cover Let's Stop Meeting Like This

Check out Dick & Emily Axelrod’s book Let’s Stop Meeting Like This: Tools to Save Time and Get More Done. The title says it all!

Nobody Really Hates Meetings

Photo of a woman in front of a computer covering her eyes and holding up a sign that says Help

Seriously. Nobody hates meetings per se.

People hate meetings because they go on too long and there are too many of them. But how long is “too long”? How many is “too many”?

We’ve worked with clients whose risk management and HR teams were meeting for two hours every day when COVID-19 first hit. Those participants may have felt overwhelmed on many levels, but they didn’t think the meetings were too long. They knew they were actively engaged in dealing with a crisis.

Meetings feel “too long” when they:

  • Don’t have a clear focus
  • Revisit the same agenda items over and over (I call these Groundhog Day meetings.)
  • Make participants sit and listen without giving them anything to do
  • Let a few people dominate or ramble

Bottom line: If participants know what they’re doing here and are engaged in solving problems and making decisions, they won’t feel the meeting is too long.

How to get there from where you are now is to learn to facilitate meetings on purpose.

If you join us for our webinar Nobody Really Hates Meetings on June 25, you’ll learn to keep meeting participants engaged and working toward a common goal by using the AGES model:

  • Attention: overcoming distraction and multitasking
  • Generation: engaging participants by letting them do the work
  • Emotions: tapping the power of positive emotions for durable change
  • Spacing: giving participants the time they need to process ideas

We can’t look at all four in this brief blog, so let’s just take a quick look at spacing. 

Creating spacing in a meeting, or series of meetings, is simply a way to help a group to do together what effective decision-makers do individually all the time:

  • Allow time for active reflection. Sitting and thinking is passive — and most people aren’t very good at it. Active reflection might include jotting ideas, brainstorming, discussing in small groups, or sharing with a partner.
  • Spread important issues out over several meetings, revisiting critical information at least three times. “Let’s sleep on it” is often the best advice a meeting facilitator can give.

Together with gaining attention, generating connections to the work, and tapping positive emotions, spacing can help you get the most out of meetings, whether virtual or in-person.

What you can do today

For the next meeting you lead: Before you send the meeting invitation, ask yourself two questions:

  • Does this have to be a meeting? Could it be an informative email, a shared document, or an online survey?
  • Does every person on the participant list need to be there? Justify the need for each person in terms of what they can contribute.

For the next meeting you attend as a participant, watch for Groundhog Day moments, when the issue everyone thought was decided comes up again.

  • What went wrong?
  • What would you do differently?
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