Meetings are a crucial element of any company or business that takes itself seriously. It makes people interact directly and generate ideas more quickly. Moreover, many complicated ideas are better expressed verbally, and physical cues and body language makes the whole process more natural and understandable. Here’s the deal, meetings are great and a necessary fact of business life, but they also require some planning which can get very annoying very fast. Behind every meeting is someone who plans it. This person, as hardworking as they may be, can often find the task annoying and complicated. Many proudly proclaim that they hate meetings and are always finding way to delegate them to someone else. I’ve outlined 7 things that pretty much everyone hates about planning their meetings. Let’s jump right in to it!
1. The back and forth needed to plan a meeting
“Are you available at this time?” “When is the best time” “Are you free on Monday?”. Anyone who’s dealt with meeting planning is familiar with these awful questions. As a meeting planner, you’ll often find yourself sitting and making call after call, sending email after email just to find a time that works for everyone. Even though for small companies these might not be an issue, the moment you grow beyond 10 people (and let’s be honest, most businesses are far larger than that) finding the right time for everyone becomes an impossible feat. At some point, in the midst of intense scheduling and planning, you might start asking yourself whether it’s worth it at all! But don’t worry, it gets better (or worse).
2. The hassle of coordinating all the meetings participants
This might sound similar to the previous point, but it’s not exactly the same. Every meeting has a purpose, and everyone meeting attendee has a role to fill. You, as the almighty meeting planner, need to make sure that everyone shows up with the right documents, facts, and information to make this meeting worthwhile. You’ll often find that people take meetings as a time to relax and kick-back from daily work. This means your friendly coworkers show up unprepared and empty handed. Bigger companies are more complicated, and divisions might not be 100% coordinated at any given moment. You’re (difficult) job is to make sure that everyone is on the same page. This ties in nicely with my next point.
3. Actually sitting down and planning how the meeting is structured
You probably saw this coming. Talking is nice, but actually sitting down with yourself and planning the meeting is definitely easier said than done. In many ways, you need to plan the time you’ll plan your meeting. This means taking time out of your busy day and really thinking about how to make this meeting work. You can use one of the thousands of software, calendars, and to do lists or even a good old pen and paper. Either way, you have to make sure that the planning really takes place. Many people make the mistake of thinking that meetings don’t require planning and that you’ll just wing it. Lots of people also confuse lack of planning with being ‘dynamic’. While the word ‘dynamic’ is definitely a cool one it’s a poor strategy for planning a quality meeting. Next point talks about what happens when you’re too dynamic.
4. Making sure that the meeting isn’t too long
This is one of the most difficult ones. You know how it is, you start talking, someone says a joke, another says a story, before you know what’s happening people are talking about their summer plans and Jeff’s trip to Thailand (you only heard his story 20 times). Hopefully, you really get along with your coworkers, which is fantastic. The issue is that this can lead to a huge waste of time and the meeting going over time. When you plan a meeting, you budget specific time in the day. Just like any other budget, you have to make sure that you’re adhering it. People might take it the wrong way at first thinking that you’re trying to end the party but stay strong and persistent. It’ll make your life easier.
5. Making sure that the meetings starts and ends as planned
As I mentioned before, each meeting should have a clear purpose. This means that it should start in one way and end in another. Meetings run the risk of ending without all issues being addressed and having no clear conclusion. A meeting should start with clarifying its purpose and should end with actionable tasks and goals. A meeting that fizzles out or ends with Jeff’s stories from Thailand, is in many ways a failed meeting. As a result, you’re going to need to end the meeting on a strong note so that everyone understands why they sat in the meeting in the first place and what comes next.
6. Not having everyone agree to the planning of your meeting
This is a tough one. You’re not going to be planning every meeting on your own. Multiple people can be involved and often from different departments. If not everyone agrees, and with each person trying to pull more focus to his department’s needs, thing can get heated and fast. This can lead to quite a few issues and happens more often than it should. Meetings often involve setting budgets and allocating resources, which can naturally lead to a competitive atmosphere when there are multiple departments involved. Arguments surrounding the meeting can drastically increase the time dedicated to planning the meeting, which leads me to my next point.
7. Spending more time planning than actually meeting
This is probably the most hated of all. When coordinating a large number of employees making sure that everyone comes prepared, and that the time works for everyone, you can find yourself planning the meeting longer than having the meeting itself. While this may be necessary in some cases, most meetings shouldn’t be so complicated. This can lead to a huge amount of stress as it takes your attention away from your day-to-day work. Unless your title is Senior Meeting Planning Executive, you shouldn’t be burning precious hours on planning meetings.