Making Meetings Productive


Q: I feel like my meetings at work are such a waste of time! What can I do in order to make them more productive?


As Priya Parker in her book The Art of Gathering: How we Meet and Why it Matters writes, the key to a good meeting is purpose. So, how to do we figure out if we have one? If we don’t have one, how do we create a meaningful purpose? Should we create a meaningful purpose?

Parker has several tips for helping people figure out what the purpose of their meeting is, which can in turn make or break the meeting itself:
• Zoom out: Ask yourself why you are meeting. Parker gives the example of a chemistry teacher. Why is she teaching her class about chemistry? If she is simply teaching her class about chemistry, she will not have real purpose. If, instead, she is teaching chemistry because she wants to give her students a life-long relationship to the organic world, that will shape her lessons and classes in a more meaningful way.
• Drill, baby, drill. Once you have zoomed out and have come up with your purpose, drill down. Keep asking yourself questions. If you have a work meeting and you believe that the purpose is to speak about next year, ask yourself, “what about next year?” If the answer to that question is, “to speak about our goals for next year.” Then, ask yourself “What kind of goals?”
• Ask not what your country can do for your gathering, but what your gathering can do for your country. If you can put your meeting and purpose within the larger context of the company, community, or even the world, you can make the meeting significantly more meaningful.
• Reverse engineer an outcome. This tip is clearly related to drilling down to the true purpose. Once you understand the true purpose of the meeting, ask yourself, “What do you want to be different because you gathered?”

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