Why do meetings get such a bad rap?
The very idea that two or more people sitting down to talk about something is inherently flawed, is silly. It says more about communication skills than it does about the act of communicating face-to-face. I happen to like meetings because they can accelerate progress.
More than 10 years ago, I was taught a trick that serves me to this day, so long as I commit to using it. It’s kind of magical, really. (But only if I use it.)
Thank You, Time, Agenda, Purpose
It’s called TTAP, pronounced, “tee tap,” and there are several ways to use it.
- When planning a meeting or agreeing to take one, clarify with other attendees how long you have, what you expect to cover and what you hope to leave having accomplished, including next actions, if any. Whether by phone, email or in person, it’s not bossy– it’s being clear and engaged so that you can be as helpful as possible.
- When you start a meeting (even if you’re not sure why you’re there), write TTAP at the top of your notebook (or your note app, whatevs), to remind yourself to say something like, “Thanks for the meeting, Joe. Just so I’m clear and we make the most of it, how much time do we have right now, what are you hoping to cover, and once we leave, what will have made this meeting most helpful to you?”
- When a meeting isn’t ending and you need to get out, “Guys, thanks for this, it’s been helpful, but I only have 15 minutes left. What can we sort out in the time so we have left, to be able to accomplish important thing one or important thing two?”
Starting trying it. Guard your time and make others earn it with clarity. You’ll see how much people appreciate the structure. No one really wants to waste time. Unless they do. In which case, they don’t need a meeting for that, and neither do you.