Meetings, meetings, meetings

I just got back from a business meeting, and I really have to say how much I like lunch or dinner meetings.

Meetings can be both informal and informative. The one I had today is a weekly event where a client and I get together, and talk about marketing strategy, blog posts, what’s happening on the web, business issues related to running an office, and so on. It works out well because we don’t pull any punches, and we hold serious discussions which lead to actions that can be easily taken.

These meetings usually require big tables, where we can spread out to jot down notes on a notepad, and write up a recap of some of the ideas and action items that come out during the meeting. They also giving us an opportunity to scout out some of the many restaurants in the area.

They are quite a change from some of the meetings I’ve been in on past days, with formal minutes of the meetings approved or amended, committees formed to determine who has the power and authority to undertake certain actions, so many people participating that people need name place holders, and so many stakeholders involved that not everyone who attends is empowered to take actions.

One of the more enjoyable business books that I’ve come across over the last couple of years is one called Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable…About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business . I highly recommend it to anyone who has to plan or participate in meetings on a regular basis. Its focus is upon internal organizational meetings, and I was tempted to send copies of it to people whom I used to work with. There’s maybe nothing quite so bad as a poorly run meeting, and nothing quite so good as one that is run well.

I also enjoy some of the essays from Scott Berkun on meetings and teamwork, such as one from him entitled How to run a brainstorming meeting, and another on How to run a design critique.

Meetings with clients are somewhat different, but many of the ideas expressed in those essays, and the book are similar. You should have a sense before going in of what types of topics will be discussed and share some information before the meeting on those topics so that they aren’t being introduced for the first time ever. It can help if you have the right people present so that actions to be undertaken can be discussed, and acted upon. Listening is as important as expressing an opinion, and often one of the most important things that can come out of a meeting is finding common ground and clarifying shared objectives.

It’s easy to go on off on tangents that are outside of the scope of what is planned for a meeting, and if an unanticipated topic is important enough to discuss in more detail, it may be worth scheduling another meeting for in the future which focuses just upon that topic – with the right personnel present, and the chance to do some homework on the topic beforehand.

I often see arguments about the scope of Search Engine Optimization services within forums, and one argument often raised is that SEO isn’t as much about marketing as it is about driving traffic to a site. I really think that you can’t separate the two and do an effective job. Tomorrow I’ll post some thoughts on some of the information that an SEO could collect during the early days of communications and meetings with clients that look at business objectives of a site, and how to work to fulfill them while providing SEO services.

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2 thoughts on “Meetings, meetings, meetings”

  1. Yeah, Lencioni is a great author, I loved his book, basically, if you want to have an interesting meeting, you need to have “conflict” between people. It’s just like everything, people like conflicting situations, you need that kind of excitement and passion to get the best out of people and to get everyone involved…

  2. He’s written a few books, but I’ve only gone through this one so far. I’ve heard that the rest were as readable as Death by Meeting, so I’m looking forward to them.

    Some conflict, and some drama is important, but he also discusses some other ideas for making meetings something that people look forward to instead of shying away from. Definitely an excellent author.

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