27 September 2023

It never should be ‘just another meeting’

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Richard A. Moran* reminds stressed-out team members that the next wearisome meeting will almost always be of crucial importance to someone.

Admit it: You hear a ping to remind you of another meeting — probably a zoom meeting — and you heave a big sigh, mutter “whatever” and tune in to the meeting.

No, meetings are never about ‘whatever’.

A job interview is never really just a meeting. It may be to the interviewer, but it is not ‘just’ a meeting to the interviewee.

A pitch to a potential investor might be just another meeting to the investor, but it is not just another meeting to the entrepreneur.

A new product idea meeting might be just another meeting to the Head of Products but it is not just another meeting to the new product team.

An audition for a part in a play is not just another meeting for the person auditioning.

I was reminded of this dynamic on a recent Zoom meeting. A passionate group was pitching an idea to a team of potential investors.

The team of entrepreneurs (where I am an advisor) had spent hours refining the pitch deck and rehearsing the presentation.

After showing up late, the potential investors declared: “Sorry, we are in back-to-back meetings all day. Let’s get started.”

As soon as the meeting started I could see the investors were barely paying attention, they had no questions and it appeared they were looking at email or their phones.

At the end of the meeting they said: “Thanks, we will get back to you.”

The meeting dynamic was not equal. The investors had the power and they chose to squander it and be rude in the process.

They approached the meeting with the ‘whatever’ attitude.

A prominent chief executive once told me: “My day is full of meetings. It can get tedious, so I have to remind myself about the dynamics.

“What might be just another meeting to me could be more than that to the person I am meeting with.

“It could be the most important meeting of the week, or even the year, to the person I am meeting with.

“I remember that fact as I enter each meeting and treat each person with the dignity and courtesy they deserve.”

Take a lesson from that executive.

We love to complain about meetings.

There are too many; they are too long; nothing gets accomplished; people talk too much; the fumes from the whiteboard markers are noxious; no one knows how to use the mute button.

The list can go on, but not all meetings are the same.

Remember the side of the meeting dynamic on which you sit and act accordingly.

When it comes to meetings, it’s never ‘whatever’.

*Richard A. Moran is the Managing Partner at Blue Book Ventures and a San Francisco-based business leader, workplace pundit, bestselling author, consultant and venture capitalist. He can be contacted at richardmoran.com.

This article first appeared at richardmoran.com.

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