Philippe Paquet Tech blogging from Los Angeles

24Sep/08Off

The $5000 meeting

One the company I was working for regulary held large high level meetings. We would take an afternoon and review a good part of the product portfolio. In addition of the peoples responsibles for the products, all the executives, vice presidents and most of the directors were present. The CEO will arrive in the meeting room, look around and quietly comment "very expensive meeting". Of course, he was right. If we were to add the hourly rate of all the peoples present, I have no doubt that we would be far from a $5000 meeting. Now, did we get any value for spending $5000 on a meeting. Sometimes we did and sometimes we didn't.

A very common problem is ownership. Very often, peoples expect the highest ranking person in the room to run the meeting. Why not? He's the highest ranking after all. Well, that's wrong. If you call it, you own it. If you call a meeting, it is your responsability to run it and by that I mean the following: It is your responsability to keep discipline in the meeting. It is your responsability to keep everyone focused and more importantly, it is your responsability to get an outcome. Who's going to do what? If that is not clear for everyone, you wasted time and money.

Another common problem is the 5000 people meeting. Let's invite everybody, just in case of. Maybe they need to know what we're going to discuss about? Maybe I would get a promotion if the executives see me solving problems? Again, that's wrong. You don't want to waste people's time and company money. You should only invite people that are necessary to get an outcome. First of all, make sure that your meeting invitation clearly state what you are going to talk about and what you are expecting as outcome of that discussion. That way, not only you will give the people you invite a chance to decide if their presence is required or not but you will have attendees that are prepared for the discussion to come. Then, instead of inviting people that won't have an involvment in getting an outcome, consider sending them meeting minutes. You keep meeting minutes, don't you?

So, save your company some money and save your co-workers some time by doing the following:

  1. Only invite peoples that are required to get an outcome.
  2. Make your meeting invitation clear, specifying what you are going to talk about and what outcome you expect.
  3. Own the meetings you call by keeping discipline, keeping focus and making sure that you get an outcome.
  4. Send minutes to the people that need to know about it.
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