Precious Meeting Time

January 19th, 2009

Do you treat your meeting time as “precious”?  Do your colleagues value your time? Or do they waste hours and hours in useless, boring meetings? There was a good article in “The New York Times” yesterday: “Meetings Are a Matter of Precious Time” by Reid Hastie. He says that “it is certain that every organization has too many meetings, and far too many poorly designed ones.”

I was surprised he did not do any PowerPoint bashing. Maybe he would agree that it is not about PowerPoint wasting meeting time, it’s about BAD PowerPoint caused by people not taking the time to plan and prepare for their meeting. Bad PowerPoint just becomes a symptom of “poor  meeting design” that he writes about.

I believe there is a correlation between a meeting with great support visuals and great meetings. A presenter with well designed PowerPoint slides usually means the presenter made the effort to plan and prepare for the meeting. No visuals or ‘last minute looking slides” usually means an unprepared presenter. Yes, it does take time and effort to design good support slides as it takes time to design and produce a good meeting.

Often the development of good slides incorporates the process of developing a plan for a successful meeting. Creating good slides becomes a big challenge when it is the first time the presenter has really thought about the meeting objectives and the critical messages that need to be communicated to make the meeting successful.

Even if you don’t have time to create PowerPoint slides, at the vey least, create a brief agenda that outlines your meeting objective and plan. Maybe if as Hastie points out in his article that companies today have to stop allowing employees to waste so much time in “poorly designed” meetings, and maybe better meetings will result in a more profitable future.

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