Meetings consume a big part of our lives at work. However, a vast majority of meetings fail to deliver an acceptable return on the time and energy that gets invested. 

Why is this so? I believe there are 3 contributing factors:

1. Poor quality of CHAIRING

2. Ineffective PARTICIPATION

3. Sub-optimal ENVIRONMENT

In this post, I touch on the subject of chairing – specifically the 10 mistakes Chairs make, well before the first word is even spoken. 

1. Not being clear on the “end in mind”Not really sure what specifically is to be achieved as result of the meeting.

2. Assuming a meeting is necessary – Not exploring what might be some other options to achieve the desired outcomes without the need for a meeting.

3. Inviting the wrong people – Being unclear on the critical people to attend, without whom the meeting won’t be able to achieve the desired outcomes.

4. Framing the invite in a non-compelling way – The invite doesn’t share clarity on the purpose of the meeting and/or the criticality of the meeting and/or the reasons someone’s attendance is crucial. In the absence of all of these, attendees make their own assumption about how much of themselves they are willing to give to the meeting.

5. Underestimating/Overestimating the time required – Estimating how long a meeting will take is both a science and an art. Often chairs don’t really think through the “science” that can contribute to more accurate estimation of the time required.

6. Not thinking through the agenda design – Not paying upfront attention to how best to go about achieving the objectives of the meeting e.g. what segments are to be covered and in what sequence, through what method, what time of the day and for how long.

7. Not being clear on the needs, expectations and starting points of the invitees – Often chairs fail to consider and anticipate what’s going in the minds of the attendees in relation to the meeting. And as such, they fail to engage the participants both intellectually and emotionally, even before they step into the meeting.

8. Not doing and/or overseeing the right preparation – I believe 80% of the success of a meeting lies in the preparation. Many chairs don’t consciously consider the preparation required and/or are casual about the level and quality of the preparation.

9. Issuing the pre-read/pre-work at the last minute – Chairs can sometimes assume that the meeting attendees have nothing else to do, and have all the time in the world to do the pre-read, hours before the meeting.

10. Not thinking through the desired venue and logistics – Different types of meeting require different types of space and logistics e.g. having a brainstorming session in a board room with no natural light and with no flip chart is unlikely to invite the utmost creativity.