How To Make Meetings Productive

Everyone has been forced to sit in meetings that stretch on forever about something that’s either irrelevant, unimportant, or that they’re uninformed about.  Say someone’s giving a talk about a new technology that’s going to be implemented.  Most people have no idea what’s going on, so the speaker, unless he’s rehearsed beforehand, drones on to fill the time.  No one asks terribly insightful questions because they haven’t had much time to process the news.  Massive time waste. What’s the better way?  Take a page from the Khan Academy.

What if the product manager recorded himself giving his presentation into a web cam, watching it afterwards to make sure it’s engaging. He then edits it and sends it out to the group. The group watches the video online, self paced, with the option to rewind or repeat if necessary. Two days later, have a Q&A session. Think it will be more productive?

This is tremendous advice that could be very well implemented in a variety of fields.  In the law firms that I’ve worked in, meeting with supervising attorneys to discuss case specifics or requirements always requires advanced planning.  It means someone who bills $500 an hour needs to plan ahead to set aside time to meet with someone who bills $200 an hour, then needs to interrupt whatever he’s working on to actually have the meeting.  Because the senior attorney is busy, he tries to get through the meeting quickly.  Because the junior attorney doesn’t want to appear to be a total moron, he often doesn’t ask questions he thinks he may be able to answer on his own.  This process usually means one meeting turns into two or three meetings before everyone is on the same page.

How much more productive would everyone be if the senior attorney could record something whenever he had a lull and the associate could review it and have time to formulate insightful questions and responses?

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