Meetings, meetings, meetings
Illustration: Phil Couzens

Thumb-screws, iron maidens and your meetings.

…all tools of torture, in that order.

Good lord deliver me from these internal “meetings.”

If I have to spend another 10 precious minutes of my youth watching condensation beads travel down my double-shot iced mocha because of these droning & pointless dialogues, I am making a leap of faith out the window and taking someone with me.

I am often hired to come to meetings to help throw out ideas “from left field,” to “think outside of the box,” and I am always amazed at how poorly meetings are conceived, unorganized and horribly executed. Worst of all, most points raised are never followed up on.

Please don’t take offense, most companies' meetings suck, mine did too until about 18 months ago.

Below is a simple outline for “suck-proofing” your meetings thus giving you more time to serve your customers.

1. First off, categorize your meeting “types.”

Yes, not all meetings are the same (though they smell like it). They have different desired outcomes, so they should be organized differently, with rules and simple policies. Examples of types can include: Performance feedback, new business strategy, weekly sales meeting, feedback analysis, loop closer etc.

2. In general, I repeat, in general, meetings are not to last for more than 30 minutes.

Why? Because after 10 minutes of real discussion and information sharing, everyone just starts repeating themselves.

3. Meetings are not to be held during “Core hours” & “Core money-maker days” when people are supposed to be serving customers' needs.

Unless the topic is about a client emergency etc, use your common sense. If you ever have an internal, “sales” meeting in the middle of a selling day, I'll stab you with a pencil.

4. Meeting agenda must be sent out no later than 24 hours beforehand, with a simple, 3 bullet-point structure.

Never surprise your audience, give them time to pre-digest and come up with ideas. Emergencies, confidential announcements not included.

5. If someone is not to be asked for input, opinion or given a task to do, then they don’t need to be there.

Send’em da memo!

6. Turn off your mobile phone/i-Like-To-Touch whatever, or I shall smite it with mine fist.

No one, not even the almighty, has something so pressing to discuss that they can’t wait 15 minutes for a call back. I can’t count how many great session “moments” where ruined by a sudden, stupid ring tone.

7. Finally, make sure the following is confirmed at the END of the meeting.

* Next steps/action items
* Who is responsible for what
* Deadlines for submission & loop closing by those people

And for the love of all that is holy, please deliver on stuff you talk about doing in meetings, if not, just sit there and shut up.

Our time on this great planet is limited, let’s not waste it watching my mocha.

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Brilliant article. 100% in agreement.

Agree on some level on all of them. 6 and 7 is by far the most important. rule 7 (in)validates the whole meeting. without it you might just kick back and have a few buds.

Rule 3 is not that important if doesnt contain sales people who actualu push the stuff to clients. Tech people can have hour long meetings. i have, and i like them as it allows me to process most items in a batch with my peers. But it still needs rule 6 and 7 to finish off correctly.