Why this meeting? Why now?
If you ask people where most time is lost at work, the invariable answer is “meetings that don’t have a point”. So why do we let it happen? What can we do to persuade people that meetings are actually a valuable use of their time, and not another excuse for not getting their reports done on time?
One method that we use to ensure our time is used productively is to ensure all meetings have a ‘PAIR’. This stands for ‘Purpose and Intended Result’.
If your meeting doesn’t have a PAIR, prepare for time-wasting, tangential discussions and few, if any, decisions actually being taken.
Ask yourself: what is the purpose of the meeting, the actual reason it is taking place? Use a verb like ‘to agree on’ or ‘to create an action plan’.
‘To discuss…’ is not an effective purpose, because it doesn’t fulfill the second part of PAIR. It doesn’t help you or the other meeting attendees achieve a result. Have a measurable goal for your meetings. Ensure they are aimed at providing answers that you can only achieve at a meeting.
If you could have got the same result by sending out a report to individuals and then having a meeting to decide on the next actions following the report, then this might be a better reason for meeting.
Look at your next meeting coming up, maybe later today, or immediately after you’ve read this. What’s the purpose? Do you know? Have you been informed? What’s the intended result? Have all attendees been informed?
By insisting that each meeting you run or attend has a PAIR that everyone agrees with, you stand a better chance of achieving your goals and less chance of wasting your time!
Originally published: 18 June, 2010
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