Manage Meeting Madness and Mayhem

Meeting_FishIn a past InHouse Designers Blog post, Donna Farrugia noted that in a Robert Half survey of managers, 45% said their companies would be more productive if they banned meetings one day a week. While this may happen when pigs are sighted flying around in a hell frozen over, there are strategies to manage meeting madness and mayhem. Here are five:


  1. Make like a banana and peel – If the topics you need to know about have been discussed and the group turns to other issues, politely request if you can “peel off” to attend to other important tasks.
  2. Get back to reality – If you have back-to-back meetings your meeting calendar most likely assumes you’ll be able to instantly teleport yourself from the meeting you’re in to the one on the other side of the building. If you haven’t yet acquired this skill (and if you have, please write me) let the meeting organizer know at the beginning of the meeting that you’re going to have to leave early. If the first meeting is more important than the next one, then let that organizer know you’ll be running late. If you’re a meeting organizer, schedule your meetings to allow for back-to-back meetings.
  3. For the record – If your company utilizes a web conferencing solution for meetings and you can’t attend a critical meeting, ask that it be recorded and distributed. Most services provide this feature at no charge.
  4. Just say no – Some meetings, while they would be nice to attend, may not be critical to your core responsibilities. Don’t feel like you have to attend them because you’ll hurt the organizer’s feelings, just make sure to respond and provide a reason why you can’t attend (white lies are acceptable in this instance).
  5. Pressed for time – Meeting organizers tend to default to 30 or 60 minute meeting times. There’s no rule that says that a meeting can’t last just 15 minutes. If you give a group an hour for a meeting they’ll fill it up even if the discussion could have been wrapped up in half the time. Purposely trimming meeting times can push the group to resolve issues and disseminate information more efficiently.