Hold the Meetings

By Donna Farrugia, Executive Director of The Creative Group

Meetings are a fact of life for every in-house design team. While many of these gatherings are essential, they aren’t always efficient. In fact, 45 percent of managers polled by Robert Half felt employees would be more productive if their companies banned meetings one day a week.

Sometimes, there are better alternatives to formal gatherings. The next time you’re faced with any of these situations, you may want to consider if another option might be more appropriate:

  1. You need to resolve a few minor issues related to a current project. Instant messaging and email are ideal for maintaining communication about ongoing initiatives. Rather than holding a meeting to talk about a number of small concerns, participants can pose questions, brainstorm new ideas and provide status updates, if necessary. You’ll also have a record of the conversation to refer back to, which is especially handy for long-term initiatives.
  2. One aspect of a project requires further clarification. A common complaint about meetings is that people attend, and then discover that only part of the conversation is relevant to them. Rather than assemble the entire in-house design team, it may make more sense to talk one-on-one with a certain member (e.g., the web designer) about a specific component of the project (e.g., Facebook ads).
  3. Team members need to stay up-to-date on the progress of an assignment. Project management tools, like Basecamp and TeamLab, make it easy for in-house teams to assign tasks, share files and exchange comments. And while they may not eliminate the need for all meetings, a good application can help ensure everyone involved is aware of new developments as they arise.
  4. Several executives need to provide feedback on a new marketing brochure. Rather than trying to schedule everyone in a room or on a conference call at the same time to discuss the piece, consider using collaboration software, like Microsoft SharePoint, which allows multiple users to create, edit and track changes (while noting who made them) to materials. This allows busy decision makers to provide feedback at their convenience.

If you decide a formal meeting is the best approach for discussing a particular topic, do your part to keep it on track. Create an agenda, limit attendance to team members whose participation is essential and set a time limit to hold everyone’s attention.

Donna Farrugia is executive director of The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service placing interactive, design and marketing professionals with a variety of firms. More information, including online job-hunting services, candidate portfolios and The Creative Group’s award-winning career magazine, can be found at creativegroup.com.

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About Andy Brenits

Andy Brenits is a brand and creative strategist with extensive experience building and leading creative teams for national and international brands. He has worked with major brands such as Banana Republic, The Gap, National Football League, KPMG, and Arizona Public Service. In addition to consulting and writing, Andy is the President of the board of directors at InSource and lectures on Visual Branding at Columbia University in New York.

3 thoughts on “Hold the Meetings

  1. Sam Harrison

    Great piece, Donna! I especially like #2 — I’ve found that a five-minute one-on-one chat can usually handle what would become a one-hour meeting of the entire team. And if the rest of the team needs to be updated on the chat, revert to your #1 suggestion rather than huddling the entire team.

  2. katrina

    As a freelancer, I’ve always felt that much of my time is wasted in meetings. Clients want to get together to ‘talk’ about everything and then get upset when you haven’t ‘done’ enough to satisfy them. Things get done by doing, not by talking about what needs to be done.

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