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The Art of the Pre-Meeting

Surely there must be an art form to the pre-meeting because some people get it, and others clearly don’t. Deep down, I know they serve their place. They can

  1. Serve as a means to unify a team and present a common front to your customers or a large audience
  2. Provide a forum to agree on an agenda for a high stakes (execs, expensive consultants) audience
  3. Give a voice to team members that may not raise issues with ‘outsiders’ around

Unfortunately, I feel like these things are being abused. Over the past few weeks, I have been invited to several ONE HOUR pre-meetings or pre-calls. If it’s going to take an hour for these people to figure out what I am asking for, either I have gone way off base or I did not call the right person. This seems particularly true for sales calls. Am I wrong to think that a couple of emails could handle this? I have some other scenarios that I will hide to protect the guilty.

There was a terrific article written a few weeks ago called Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule, and it summed up nicely how meetings are necessary and detrimental all in the same vein. For me, I am part maker and part manager and I try to be cognizant of the detriment I bring to the makers with my meetings. Mondays are my status days, where 3-4 different groups are assembled for various projects, status is discussed and issues are raised. This is a burden on the technical staff that performs project delivery, but it’s predictable and gets blown out all in one day. There are 4 days left for them to “make” stuff. 

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