There is never enough time to get it right, but always time to fix it.

Most marketers tell me that they are incredibly busy. In fact so busy they do not have time to review how to work more effectively with the agency because they are too busy working with the agency.

A bit like that saying “when you are up to your ass in alligators, it is difficult to remember that your initial objective was to drain the swamp.”

In the book The Big Moo one of the stories questions “Is bigger better?”. The writer argues that big organization have a problem and that is a group of two people need only one meeting to exchange information but fifty people need 1,225 one on one meetings to have a similar exchange. Things slow down.

Marketeers, with so many stakeholder groups seem to have more meetings than anyone else. One marketeer last week, when finally arriving 25 minutes late for a meeting said to me “I have had back to back meetings all day. Haven’t even had time for lunch.”

The Leading Edge found in their survey that in the United States, 42 percent cited procrastination, 39 percent picked lack of team communication and 35 percent chose ineffective meetings among the top time wasters.

The Ayres Group reports that there is some 25 million meetings take place in corporate America daily. Roughly half that time is wasted. Why so many unproductive meetings?

Among the most common problems with business meetings are that they:

* Try to accomplish too much. You can’t do an information dump, solve problems, make decisions, plan for action, etc., all in one short meeting.

* Lack clear objectives and/or organization. If objectives have been identified, the agenda may not properly reflect them. [Not all meetings benefit from an agenda. If problem solving is the objective, for example, the nature of the problem(s) may not be apparent until the group meets, making an agenda premature and possibly a deterrent.] There may not be an established process to allow each person to contribute to meeting the objectives.

* Lack clearly defined roles for participants. Too often team members are asked to carve out valuable time for meetings in which they have no real role. “I talk, you listen” isn’t a good format because no one listens. It’s BlackBerry® time.

* Minimize differences of opinion and conflict. Emotion is given no place in American business – certainly not in decision making. We don’t know how to handle strong emotions, so we suppress them in meetings. We even expect our meeting leaders to suppress them for us. Yet it’s emotion that contains the passion and commitment we strive for.

But meetings do not have to be time wasters. Lorraine Pirihi of the Office Organiser provides 9 Ways to Improve Your Time Management by Having Super Productive Meetings

1. Ask yourself, is this meeting really necessary? Do you need a face-face meeting? A phone call, email or conference call might be a better solution.

2. Invite as few people as possible. Only have the necessary participants attend.

3. Have a written agenda with clear objectives. Ensure it is circulated well in advance to those attending. Indicate timeframes allowed to discuss each item.

4. Double check the meeting venue has been organised the day before. If refreshments are supplied include water and fruit. Ensure the meeting area is quiet with no distractions.

5. Start and finish on time. Respect your time and everyone else’s.

6. Have an effective chairperson. Unsure who to choose? At the beginning of the meeting count up to three. At three, each participant points to the person they believe will keep the meeting on track.. The person with the most votes is elected.

7. Circulate the minutes within 48 hours. Ensure all actions have the appropriate person written next to them.

8. Stand up and stretch every 30 minutes. It’s good for your mind and body.

9. Ensure all mobile phones and pagers are turned off. It’s amazing – people have been known to survive without their phones and live to tell the tale.

I know that in almost seven years of consulting, I have only had company regularly set and send an agenda prior to the meeting and stick to it. And it appeared to work effectively for them.

There is another great book on time management called “The time trap”, but if only you had enough time to read it.

Author: Darren Woolley

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About Darren Woolley

Darren is called a Pitch Doctor, Negotiator, Problem Solver, Founder & Global CEO of TrinityP3 - Strategic Marketing Management Consultants and a founding member of the Marketing FIRST Forum. He is also an Ex-scientist, Ex-Creative Director and a father of three. And in his spare time he sleeps. Darren's Bio Here Email: darren@trinityp3.com
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