If you are like most people the thought of attending a meeting probably fills you with a certain degree of dread. Meetings can easily chew up half a day and leave you none the wiser at the end of it. In his Ted talk “How to save the world (or at least yourself) from bad meetings” David Grady has some suggestion to offer on how to stop on how to stop meetings from being such a drain on our energy and time.
“Every day, we allow our coworkers, who are otherwise very, very nice people, to steal from us” says David Grady. No, he is not talking about stealing our money (well maybe this could apply indirectly) nor is he talking about stealing physical goods, David is referring to our time being stolen by attending inefficient meetings.
If we know meetings waste time, why attend?
David says that most of us are afflicted with this condition called Mindless Accept Syndrome, or affectional shortened to MAS. We go to the meeting, feeling that we have no choice, and spent the entire time resenting the person who asked us to attend. It’s kind of like the elephant in the conference room, chances are everyone is on agreement but no one addresses the issue. So, what can you do?
David says changing this mindset of mindlessly accepting each and every meeting request is as simple as adopting a No MAS attitude. The next time you get a meeting request shutdown that ‘yes’ reflex and actually find out if the meeting is worth your time. David suggests getting in touch with the meeting organizer to ask them what the goal of the meeting is and find out how you can help them achieve their goal.
I love that suggestion. It’s respectful, talks in the other person’s interest and indirectly sends out the message that the meeting needs to have an agenda in place. It’s crazy how many meetings I have attended without an agenda. My rule of thumb – no agenda, no attendance.
Would an email do the job? How about a walk?
David suggests an alternative to some meetings – group emails. This is obviously not ideal for all types of meetings, but it could definitely work with some meetings.
Another suggestion from a previous Ted talk by speaker Nilofer Merchant, was to combine meetings and walking. This wouldn’t work well for large group meetings, but it could be a refreshing change for smaller sized meetings.
Meetings are a part of business life that we can either continue to dread or we can hack them to make them more efficient, more productive and more focused. Stand up and say NO MAS!
Do you dread with meetings or look forward to them? It’s okay this is a safe place I won’t judge you. Okay, well maybe just a little. Let me know what you think in the comment box below.