Office meetings, status checks, sessions, conferences, briefings, taking minutes and losing hours… Call it whatever you want. Every company has them at least once a week (and the ones that say they don’t have them even more often). And everyone really looks forward to them.
If your boss is sane, your meetings are usually quick and fairly painless. Sometimes you can even learn something at them – but then, let’s not jump straight to extremes.
And then there’s the other variant. The one that makes you want to be tied into bed every Monday.
These are usually half-hour or full-hour monologues by people who attended a weekend speaking course or spent their childhood singing in choirs and now need a place to practice their carefully cultivated alto.
But don’t despair! Sooner or later, at every company you can observe a certain dynamic that provides room for relaxation and mental exercises. Use it to the max!
Be productive, effective, flexible, and creative at every meeting from now forward. And by that, we mean: those nails aren’t going to polish themselves. Learn the arts of…
1/ SENSING THE TIMING
Don’t let the predictability of regular meetings fool you. In reality, they can come whenever. Every event – from a missing invoice to a clogged toilet – is a potential excuse to bring the whole company together. Do you really want to risk arriving with a dead phone and cold coffee?
2/ TAKING THE TOOLS
No meeting is complete without quality accessories. A notebook full of graph paper (in the past we’ve seen desperate experiments with tic-tac-toe on lined paper, but they only led to arguments), at least two pencils with different colors, a smartphone (old hands will have a power bank too), and three layers of nail polish are the bare minimum. If you sense a risk that the meeting will last more than half an hour, then pick up a snack, or pay close attention to point no. 4.
The key thing here is to start out showing interest and a face full of expectations and curiosity. In the meeting room you can say things like: I wonder what news today’s meeting will bring? Will anything have changed since last week? Is that gum still stuck to the ceiling? Do some practice runs for this expression when you’re on the toilet. It will come in handy in other situations too.
4/ THREAT IDENTIFICATION
Is there a threat of your having to answer questions, provide information, or, worse yet, present your work? Be flexible and see the hurdles before the jumps. Always have suitable answers prepared for any situation where you might get asked something.
“It’s practically done.”
“It looks like next week we’ll see the first results.”
“I’d like to give the floor to my teammate.”
In a crisis situation – for example the fearsome “going around the circle” – issue an Bat-signal to a workmate, who will have you called out of the room on something urgent. (Don’t come back, of course!) Experienced workers can stage a hypoglycemic attack. (Here it helps if you’ve forgotten your snack for the day.)
5/ MEETING ACTIVITIES
If you want to thrive and not just survive, reach for one of these meeting activities: Tic-tac-toe, Battleship, a manicure, tensing and releasing your thigh muscles, counting repeating words… Don’t be afraid to integrate your activities into the meeting itself. Whenever you hear the word “invoice,” do a sit-up. Whenever you hear the word “deadline,” clap. Staring intently at a person of your choice is another favorite. If you have a new teammate, they should be your stare’s priority target. Pro players can stare straight at whoever’s speaking.
The next time a company meeting draws near, remember that every problem is just a challenge in disguise. Don’t ruin your day listening to other people. Your time is valuable; use it sensibly.