Yes, Some People Like Meetings (Seriously)

Ann All
Slide Show

How to Conduct Better Meetings

Surveys have indicated that a typical meeting attendee views them as being 2.3 times as long as they should be. Since meetings are vital to a project's success, the secret lies in simply making them more efficient.

Stephen King mostly doesn't scare me. Vampires. Yawn. Crazed dogs. Whatever. Post-apocalyptic nuclear warhead. Eh. Car with a mind of its own. What else have you got? But evil clowns, now those I don't like.


I have a similarly visceral dislike of meetings. They are obviously a part of most workplaces, however, so I've tried to get over it. I've taken some comfort in the fact thatI'm not alone in my dislike of meetings. (You may want to click through to this post, as it includes some good suggestions on making meetings less painful.)


It never really occurred to me that some folks actually like meetings. That was before I saw a Harvard Business Review piece that presents three reasons why managers like meetings. They are:

  • They satisfy a simple craving for human contact, and give people an outlet for sharing their personal feelings and opinions.
  • They help people stay in touch with what is going on by creating information networks that might not otherwise exist.
  • They make some people feel important.


As the article points out, these factors "usually trump all of the logical and rational 'meeting management' advice that is doled out in courses and articles."


Sigh. Does this mean we need to let that VP with the big ego just blather on? Well no, the article advises managers to periodically assess the effectiveness of their meetings and make needed adjustments, a suggestion that is also included in the IT Business Edge slideshow, "How to Conduct Better Meetings."


In doing this, GlaxoSmithKline's research organization discovered that its heavy meeting schedule and the inclusion of all functions on drug development teams meant some people were spending as much time in meetings as they were on actual drug development work. I suspect many organizations would benefit from these assessments and make semi-shocking discoveries along the lines of GlaxoSmithKline's realization. (I know the management team at my prior employer would have!)


GlaxoSmithKline developed a "fit for purpose" meeting process in which only the people directly involved in a particular phase or issue of the project attended the meetings, while others got post-meeting information. (Another suggestion included in the slideshow, by the way.)

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Oct 12, 2010 2:42 AM Thejendra Thejendra  says:

Good article.


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