Huge chunks of time are spent in meetings – professionals are estimated to waste 43% of that time, so this book is dedicated to making them more efficient and effective. Meetings are important to identify and solve real problems and to provide good consistent and regular communication channels.
I really enjoyed the ideas in this book and if meetings are taking over your life, (and you’re not alone) – this book is for you. Here’s an easy story to read in which Iris, a sales director so overwhelmed by meetings that she feels like a hamster on a wheel—in fact, she’s turned into one. Just in time, she meets a productivity coach—a leading meeting efficiency expert—with a simple system that helps her regain her sanity and humanity – it’s a book for current times and includes taking advantage of the latest technologies… Iris discovers how to use e-calendars, PDAs, and virtual meetings to make her life easier, not more complicated. The authors (Mike Song, Vicki Halsey & Tim Burress) explain the system is by way of a laser-like focus on managing the “5 Biggest Meeting Pains”:
- Meeting overload: Professionals waste days a year in useless meetings.
- Missing success ingredients: ninety percent of all professionals attend meetings that lack a clearly stated objective and agenda.
- Virtual-meeting chaos: Disinterested participants + endless technical glitches huge amounts of wasted time.
- Agenda adrift: Goals are missed when meetings veer off course.
- Action distraction: Incomplete action items result in delayed projects and missed deadlines.
Meeting Overload – The coach demonstrates that these five challenges are damaging Iris’s career and costing the world over a trillion dollars each year. He provides practical new solutions that rapidly transform Iris from victim to victor. P.O.S.E is a meeting reduction system helping you attend less meetings. POSE stands for Priority – does this relate to my top goals?, Objenda – does it have a clearly stated Objective and Agenda?, Shorten – Can the time be shortened?, and E-vailable – is your electronic calendar showing all your priorities and are your really available?
A selection of the strategies highlighted include…
- the Hard 20/50’s rule for meeting dominoes… where one meeting running late runs over to the next and so forth. The Hard part of the rule relates to being strict about the start and end times to create discipline and urgency. The 20/50’s is about the time being 20 or 50 minutes… not the typical half or hour long meetings…
- Leapfrog is about planning he next meeting… at the current one, to save wasting time chasing people trying to arrang the next one. Mini leapfrog is schedulling a shorter 15 minute quick follow-up which not only saves time, but in a sales environment can be easier for clients to be OK with and potentially lead to more sales…
- Drafting templated Objendas – have a template formatted so that each meeting only requires a quick few points filled in to ensure that the Objectives an the Agenda are clear…
- 3 and e… offering 3 alternatives and asking the other party to e-calendar the time that suits best…
There is a good chunk of help for us in running Virtual Meetings including selecting the right format and keeping the meetings alive. This section discusses Phone, Web and Video conferencing, and making sure that you plan well where the use of technology is pivotal to the success of the meeting, including checklists to ensure nothing is forgotten. There are some great tactics for keeping everyone focussed, keeping them involved and alive such as the 5 alive rule which is about including interactive feedback style events every 5 – 10 minutes, a trip around the world which actually refers to using the www through your comupter screen to give people relevant pictures and content as relevant.
Another sytem introduced is NNNO… which covers those occasions where the topic can drift off agenda and waste a lot of time for the intended meeting. The “Objenda Defender” is also introduced as someone dedicated to keeping the agenda on target. NNNO stands for NO – it’s less urgent and less important than everything else on the agenda, Next – Important but not urgent so should be discussed at the next or a future meeting, Now – More urgent and More Important than something on the agenda, and Off-line – which can be dscussed perhaps by not the whole group.
She applies the solutions, gets immediate results, and reclaims her life… a happy story with lots of great tips and systems.
Included too is a case study that shows how 3,000 Capital One associates reclaimed ten days per year while improving meeting effectiveness by over 35 percent.