How to Fight the Meeting Vulture

Think Cofee. This image is CC0!

Many of us have seen meetings in action that waste people’s time and intellectual capacity. This post shows some types of meeting vultures and the “IDEAS2” pattern to overcome them.

  • Unclear goals of the meeting
  • Circling around a topic without getting to a result
  • Unclear responsibilities or people not committed or empowered to their responsibilities
  • Unintentional social gatherings (as opposed to intentional social gatherings!)
  • Meetings ended by the clock, not by the results achieved
  • No or unclear action items as result

This is the proposed cure: Organize your meeting around the “IDEAS2” pattern (Inform, Define, Elaborate, Act, Stop):

  • Inform everybody about intention, goals, and agenda of the meeting. This should be done before the meeting (as part of the invitation) and should be confirmed at the beginning of the meeting.
  • Define every attendant’s responsibilities for the meeting. This should be done before the meeting (as part of the invitation) and should be confirmed at the beginning of the meeting.
  • Elaborate the results of the meeting. Here the second IDEAS part comes in handy. Meetings can have five elements (the fewer per single meeting, the better). These are:
    • Information, either from meeting host to participants or between all participants.
    • Delegation, assigning tasks or responsibilities
    • Elaboration of a problem statement and/or solution alternatives
    • Assessment of a situation or of solution alternatives, including decisions
    • Socializingthis is a valid reason for a meeting, but don’t mix it up with the other elements too much
  • Act by finalizing the meeting results, checking the meeting success and defining next steps, tasks, responsibilities, follow-up meeting.
  • Stop. Sometimes the most difficult part. Deliberately end the meeting. Yes, it is over. Don’t loop back to open issues. If required, refer to a follow-up meeting. Everybody should be aware that the meeting is over and further discussions need to be postponed.

Do you often attend meetings that do not at least somehow use this pattern? How many of them are a waste of intellect? Maybe don’t accept the invitations next time…

Do you think it is too much work to prepare a meeting following this pattern? Here is some more advice:

  • Think before inviting: First, ask yourself if you really need the meeting.
  • Keep it simple: From the inner IDEAS part, use only one or two, not more.
  • Save time and do your math: Every minute you invest in the preparation of a meeting can save each attendant a lot more than just one minute. Multiply that with the number of participants…

Which is the next meeting you plan? Are you going to use the IDEAS2 pattern? Just leave a comment…

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