May 9, 2016 by Speakers' Spotlight
Cameron Herold: Meetings Suck: Turning One of the Most Loathed Elements of Business into One of the Most Valuable
Cameron Herold is known around the world as “The Business Growth Guru”, who is the mastermind behind hundreds of companies’ exponential growth, helping to guide his clients to double their profit and double their revenue in just three years or less. With current clients that include a “Big 4” wireless carrier, and even the monarchy, Cameron speaks not from theory, but from experience, providing tactical and tangible lessons for all audiences, and was called “the best speaker I’ve ever heard”, by Rich Karlgaaard, publisher of Forbes magazine. Cameron’s new book, Meetings Suck: Turning One of the Most Loathed Elements of Business into One of the Most Valuable, has just been published, and he was kind to share this excellent excerpt with us:
When was the last time you left a meeting feeling inspired and thinking, “That was an awesome meeting!”? Or better yet, when was the last time you watched other people in the room leave inspired and saying, “That was an awesome meeting!”?
Was it yesterday? Last week? Last month? Last year? Or maybe, never. Sadly, it’s far more likely that you’ve walked out of most meetings thinking, “What a waste of my time.”
But I have a secret to share with you…your meetings don’t have to suck.
In fact, if done right, your meetings hold the potential to drive alignment within the business; give direction; generate energy, focus, and creativity; and inspire your people to elevate the business to the next level.
But when a meeting is run poorly, which happens often, then none of that is possible. Instead what you get is a team that hates and dreads attending meetings. They find them boring; no one pays attention as they’re distracted checking iPhones and responding to emails; they’re lost in their mental to-do list that’s a mile long and are seething that the meeting is preventing them from whittling it down; and they’re confused about the purpose of the meeting and what’s being discussed.
And you know what? Those, and many others, are all real and legitimate reasons to hate meetings.
Except the problem isn’t that meetings suck; it’s that It’s Not the Meetings…It’s US! We suck at running them.
We aren’t training or equipping our people with the right skills and tools to run effective meetings. It’s like sending your kid into a Little League game without ever giving him a glove and playing catch in the backyard or teaching him how to swing a bat, how to slide into second base to avoid a tag, or even the basic rules of how to play the game. Throwing your child into a game without any preparation will only lead to an embarrassment of errors and his hatred for the experience.
And yet, that’s essentially what we do with our employees when we send them into meetings without training them. Too often, business leaders complain that their teams hate meetings, while failing to look in the mirror and ask, why? And the answer is that the onus falls on the leaders to teach the employees how to run and participate in a meeting.
Otherwise, it’s like a parent blaming the game of baseball for why their child hates Little League. It’s not the game of baseball that’s to blame; it’s the parent. And the same idea applies to business meetings.
ARE MEETINGS REALLY NECESSARY?
The short answer: yes. As much as we detest meetings, they aren’t going away. We spend about 20 percent our time in meetings—one-on-one meetings, coaching meetings, problem-solving meetings, brainstorming meetings, strategy meetings, and, of course, meetings that don’t really require our participation.
“Why don’t I eliminate all meetings?” I often hear from business leaders. Many people believe that, with
our modern methods of communication such as email, we no longer need video conferencing or in-person meetings. Sure, you could replace meetings entirely with emails and nonverbal communication, but that would be a big mistake, disastrous even for the success of your business.
While email is a helpful technology, it can’t replace the power of face-to-face communication. Written communication is a minefield of misunderstandings.
Consider the sentence, “I didn’t say you were beautiful.”
You can interpret that six ways depending on which word you emphasize! Six words, six different meanings—and matters only get murkier with more complexity. Something happens during face-to face-communication that is critical to the future success of our teams and businesses. Meetings allow us to hear from people who aren’t always heard; they enable us to quickly solve problems that can’t be done via back and-forth email exchanges and to build trust within our teams. Something happens to the connection among the team when you see one another across a table or over video. You hear the inflection and tone in someone’s voice. You see others’ facial expressions and body language. All of this helps to form deeper bonds of collaboration.
You need this group dynamic for your business to grow, so why not learn how to run and participant in meetings properly? Why not fix the problems and make your meetings matter? Plus, it makes financial sense when you consider the cost of running a typical hour-long meeting. If you have 10 employees who each make $70,000 a year—$35 an hour, in other words—that’s $350 for a one-hour meeting. In fact, the average meeting costs about $500 to $1,000 an hour.
When our meetings aren’t run properly, it’s a waste of money.
We can do better.