I’ve become a fan of the television series Mad Men because of the humor around how old school traditional advertising agencies operated. This short scene in particular lit me up in laughter and you will enjoy it as well if you are like me and are not a huge fan of internal meetings. Enjoy watching this 15-second clip of perhaps the best, most succinct, business meeting ever.
Before I Watched This Clip
I was first introduced to the idea of how unproductive internal meetings can be from a book given to me by my business partner Robb Bailey called REWORK by the guys over at 37signals(now Basecamp). They have a chapter titled Meetings are Toxic which I have pulled an excerpt from:
• They’re usually about words and abstract con-
cepts, not real things.
• They usually convey an abysmally small amount
of information per minute.
• They drift off- subject easier than a Chicago cab
in a snowstorm.
• They require thorough preparation that most
people don’t have time for.
• They frequently have agendas so vague that no-
body is really sure of the goal.
• They often include at least one moron who in-
evitably gets his turn to waste everyone’s time
• Meetings procreate. One meeting leads to an-
other meeting leads to another . . .
Not ALL Meetings are Toxic
In the above video, the meeting topic is ‘New Business’ and if there is no new business that doesn’t mean there is no meeting. What it does mean is that the meetings end quickly because it has a narrow focus. But the regularly scheduled meeting should still take place so everyone knows the fact there is no new business.
Ending Meetings Early is Good
I’ve found that with most meetings that run late it makes it difficult to follow up with the items discussed int he meeting as you run to your next obligation. How much easier is it to follow up with items discussed in a meeting right after the meeting than tomorrow or later? So if the meetings only take 15 minutes or 15 seconds when it’s scheduled for an half-hour or hour it just enables more immediate action to be taken which is a good thing.
Meetings are NOT the Time to Speak Up
Especially if it is about an even slightly unrelated topic this is not appreciated. This is different from making announcements but if you are expecting a discussion without allowing your colleagues to prepare first then it’s become counter-productive. If you decide to ‘speak up’ at a meeting just be aware that you could robbing the focus of the meeting and leaving the other participants forgetful of their normal takeaways and post-meeting focus. Businesses have meetings, not for the benefit of the owners, customers, or employees. The meetings are always to improve THE COMPANY which is it’s own entity so let’s not make it personal. Some say a company is its people which is true but if the company could speak for itself what would it say? Nobody knows and speculations often take the perspective of whoever is speaking on the company’s behalf.
There is a Strategy to Every Meeting
There are lots of different types of meetings. If you conduct every meeting in the same fashion with the same people you may find yourself never getting anywhere. What I mean is that you should always be evaluating the meetings your involved in to see how they can be more productive. It might be adding or removing a certain person, changing the meeting agenda, or changing the frequency or time block. Everyone in the meeting should not only be able to come prepared but should also leave feeling like they just had a great purposeful meeting. If not, there is a problem.