by Lori Milner, author, entrepreneur, thought leader and founder of Beyond the Dress
I have interviewed people across many industries, levels, companies, entrepreneurs – and the number one time waster that comes up again and again is meetings. David Grady, has coined the phrase MAS – this is a new epidemic sweeping the working world today. It stands for Mindless Acceptance Syndrome. In other words, as soon as we receive a meeting invite, we accept it without questioning our role in it or the purpose of the meeting. So his solution to MAS is…NO MAS.
Here's how No MAS works. It's very simple. First of all, the next time you get a meeting invitation that doesn't have a lot of information in it at all, click the tentative button! It's okay, you're allowed, that's why it's there. It's right next to the accept button. Or the maybe button, or whatever button is there for you not to accept immediately.
Then, get in touch with the person who asked you to the meeting. Tell them you're very excited to support their work, ask them what the goal of the meeting is, and tell them you're interested in learning how you can help them achieve their goal. And if we do this often enough, and we do it respectfully, people might start to be a little bit more thoughtful about the way they put together meeting invitations. And you can make more thoughtful decisions about accepting it. People might actually start sending out agendas. Imagine! Or they might not have a conference call with 12 people to talk about a status when they could just do a quick email and get it done with. People just might start to change their behaviour because you changed yours.
So now once we have accepted the meeting, here are some great tips influenced by Marketer Seth Godin on how to successfully navigate them:
Not all meetings are created equal – question the default 60 minute slot – often we get through the desired content in the first 20 minutes and the rest of the time is idle chit chat.
Require preparation and an agenda. Give people things to read or do before the meeting, and if they don't, kick them out.
Everyone invited is someone who needs to be there, and no key party is missing.
There's a default step forward if someone doesn't come.
There's no better way to move this forward than to have this meeting.
Remove all the chairs from the conference room.
If someone is more than two minutes later than the last person to the meeting, they have to pay a fine of R50 to the coffee fund. If you think of all the wasted minutes of just being 10 minutes late and then your 11am ends at 11:15 – that’s huge! That 10 minutes late becomes contagious and eventually culture.
Bring an egg timer to the meeting. When it goes off, you're done. Not your fault, it's the timer's.
The organizer of the meeting is required to send a short email summary, with action items, to every attendee within ten minutes of the end of the meeting.
If you're not adding value to a meeting, leave. You can always read the summary later.
Here’s to owning your meetings
LORI MILNER is the engaging facilitator, thought leader and mentor known for her insightful approach to being a modern corporate woman. Her brainchild, the successful initiative Beyond the Dress, is the embodiment of her passion to empower women. Beyond the Dress has worked with South Africa’s leading corporates and empowered hundreds of women with valuable insight on how to bridge the gap between work and personal life. Clients include Siemens, Massmart, Alexander Forbes, Life Healthcare Group, RMB Private Bank and Unilever to name a few. Lori has co-authored Own Your Space: The Toolkit for the Working Woman in conjunction with Nadia Bilchik, CNN Editorial Producer. Own Your Space provides practical tools and insights gleaned from workshops held around the world and from interviews with some of South Africa’s most accomplished women to provide you with tried-and-tested techniques, tips and advice to help you boost your career, enhance your confidence and truly own your space on every level. Own Your Space is the ultimate ‘toolkit’ to unleash your true power. It’s for the woman who wants to take her career to new heights and who is ready to fulfil her true potential.
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