If a friend asked, “Can I borrow your car”, and then added, “Would you fill it up with fuel before I take it?” You would probably think they were trying to take advantage of you. And yet, everyday people freely sign over huge chunks of their lives and time by agreeing to attend pointless meetings.
Here are five things you should do before agreeing to attend any meeting.
1. Establish the meeting Objectives
What are the objectives for the meeting? Ask this question of the meeting organiser, if you receive answers, such as, “to discuss business” or “just to talk about something,” be warned that this meeting lacks direction.
2. Review the agenda
Ask to be sent a copy of the agenda, the agenda is the plan for the meeting, a meeting without an agenda is like a journey without a map, and will always be a waste of your time.
3. Establish your role in the meeting
What agenda items will you be expected to contribute to? Do you need to be there for the whole meeting or just part of it? Why are you being asked to attend? What does the chairperson expect of you during the meeting? You should only attend meetings where you can have an impact. If you don’t feel you can, ask that a copy of the minutes be sent to you.
4. Identify who else will be there
Who else has been asked to attend the meeting? Why have they been asked to attend? Can you find out their objectives for the meeting? How well do they support your goals for the meeting? This tells you how to prepare and what to expect. If you don’t do this there is a chance that you could find yourself being invited to an ambush.
5. Block out time for preparation
How should I prepare? Is there any pre – reading I have to do? Attending a meeting without sufficient preparation will make you appear unprofessional and possible incompetent. If you do not have the sufficient time to prepare, suggest alternatives such as rescheduling the meeting.
Till Next Time
The Time Doctor – Mike Gardner