Bringing Sanity to Meetings and Con Calls – You Can Do It!

I’m sure all of my readers love meetings. If you’re like me, you wake up looking forward to people who forget they’re on mute, people who forget to go on mute before yelling at pets/neighbors/unpleasant BMs, and of course what I call Cisco Standard Time (“We’ll get started about 5 minutes late because everyone before us did.”).

But for those of you who want to make a difference, I thought I’d share some ideas to help you make the most of your meeting time, whether you’re running a meeting, participating in one, or thinking you’d rather get a few more root canals and maybe a vertebra replacement instead of going to another conference call.

Caveat: I work remotely (not to be confused with remotely working), so a lot of my recent thoughts on this topic are focused around Webex or other conference call methods. I hope they’ll help you with face-to-face meetings as well, but don’t count on hitting mute in a conference room to save you from your woes.

I’ll start with an anecdote. I worked for a search engine company about 13 years ago, and one of the CEOs during my time there made an interesting observation. He walked around our San Francisco office and saw meeting rooms full most of the time. Many/most of the people in the meeting rooms were disengaged, and people couldn’t justify the meetings to him in many cases. So a mandate went out, a decree from on high, telling people to cut back on meetings and trim down the attendees. It was one of the wisest admonitions from a CEO that I’ve ever been in the room to hear first-hand. And it seemed to work. (The company failed later for other reasons, but nobody who left the company thought “if we’d only had a few more meetings each day, we would’ve made it.”)
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