This spring, in 75 Q&A sessions across a 21-city book tour promoting our new book, The Real Life MBA, we spoke to thousands of people and fielded audience questions on everything business: careers, globalization, budgeting, strategy, social media, and the like. We were surprised, however, by one area of questioning that came up in just about every session.
It went something like this: “How can I get my company to stop being meeting-crazy?” “I literally spend hours each week fidgeting through meaningless meetings.” “My boss loves meetings, but they don’t leave any time in my day to work on anything.” “I go to boring meeting after boring meeting where nothing is ever decided.” You get the idea.
We’ve found over the years that there are a couple of truths about meetings.
- Yes, meetings can be boring. Yes, there are usually too many of them, too often, that are too long. Yes, they are often circular in nature, i.e., conclusion-less. Everyone hates meetings unless it was you who called the meeting.
- Complaining about meetings is an enervating exercise that serves no useful purpose and will do nothing but hurt your career.
So what can and should you do about meetings?
Change your attitude. And do it fast. While it may be tempting to tune out and just go through the motions, every time you have a meeting, you have an opportunity to elevate the conversation. You can’t get cynical about it. You can’t go in these meetings with, “Let’s see how it flies.” You have to come in ready to own it, with a clear picture of why you’re there, what you’re trying to deliver and where you stand on the outcome. If you come in fully prepared to add value, with a positive attitude and the data to take the discourse in the meeting to a new level, you’ll see that the meeting no longer feels like an exercise in clock-watching or multi-tasking.
After the meeting, give yourself a mirror-test appraisal where you ask:
- Was my attitude energizing or enervating?
- Was my body language positive or negative?
- Did I ask great questions?
- Did I generate ideas?
- Did I use data to make a point?
- Did I listen to other people’s thoughts effectively and build on them?
- Did I successfully influence the group to come to a key decision?
- Did I truly contribute positively and leave everyone in the meeting feeling good about my participation and attitude?
Think hard about your performance and give yourself a grade (from A-F). If it’s too difficult to evaluate yourself on your own, you might also ask a colleague or two for feedback, “How did I do in the meeting? What could I do better?”
Source: This article was originally published on LinkedIn.