Sleep Deprived Meeting Mania

September 15th, 2008

How many meetings have you had where you spent so much time preparing for the meeting, you left little time to sleep the night before a meeting? What is better, more meeting preparation, or more sleep?

I have a monthly meeting that I’m responsible for planning and facilitating. Since I’ve been in the meeting business for the past 25 years, it should be a breeze. But since we are in the business of designing and producing presentations, we are driven by client presentation deadlines. We often miss our own deadlines in order to meet our client deadlines. Although I am the least directly involved in the production of client presentations, I seem to have my own full plate of administrative deadlines.

I always start out with the plan to start preparing for the meeting the week before, but other priorities get in the way and it always seems a good portion of the preparation is the night before (just like our clients). Considering I leave for the office at 5:30am, if I stay up late to prepare the meeting detailed agenda and notes, I usually start the meeting sleep deprived. I definitely notice the difference in the success of the meeting when I get a good night’s sleep vs just a few hours or when my partners are severely sleep deprived, because of crazy client deadlines.

I wonder how many meetings are being run by sleep deprived facilitators or presenters? Bad meetings are often blamed on bad slides, but it could just be too many people stay up late producing (bad) slides and then don’t have the needed energy to present the information effectively. Their sleepy presentation produces a bored, sleepy audience and a big waste of time for all.

Just like it is illeagle to drive in NJ if you are sleep deprived (no sleep for 24hrs), maybe there should be a law against running a meeting with less than 6 hours of sleep?

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