First the Press Release, Now Meetings?

A recent blog post floated the idea of the press release as dead, now another denounces the traditional business meeting. Every PR professional has been to at least one meeting in their career, so in today’s fast-paced working environment are those long, drawn-out meetings still necessary?

With all the advances in technology it’s possible to “meet” someone without ever actually being in the same room.  Sites like Skype make is possible for people to video conference through the Web.  Much of the time, little gets done at meetings, but that doesn’t mean that meetings stymie progress. Meetings allow professionals to touch base and communicate about variety of subjects. Even though meetings help businesses plan, strategize and review they are not always productive.

But instead of throwing meetings in the trash, I suggest that businesses and individuals revamp how they meet.  First, lessen the number of meetings. Many people feel like meetings are a waste of time, and by scheduling fewer they will seem more important.  Also meetings sometime result in more work, and nobody wants to do more work. Also, create and stick to the meeting agenda, many meetings get off-track. Meeting leaders need to have a firm grip on the meeting flow.  To ensure no one falls asleep,  avoid taking up the whole morning or afternoon; attention spans are short. The shorter the meeting, the more people will retain.  Maintain an online meeting place where everyone can post, comment, link and share. Team members can then log on at their leisure and still feel connected with everyone.

My argument stands, the traditional business meeting is not dead, it’s just outdated and needs a facelift.  To read the blog that inspired it all, take a look at The Future Buzz.

Click to watch a funny video on the subject

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14 Responses to First the Press Release, Now Meetings?

  1. cbaumgar says:

    This post is very interesting. I know there has been tons of buzz about Skype and other sites that allow online/virtual meetings via the computer, but I would never think face-to-face real business meetings would get the boot. First, I think business meetings are extremely important because they add that level of personal interaction. If you’re on the computer all day, it is hard to really “feel” a good relationship.

    Second, if you’re doing meeting after meeting on the computer in your office, you’re subject to other distractions. While in a business virtual meeting, you still have continual access to email, phone calls, text messaging, upon other things. How is this any more productive that someone sleeping during a business meeting?

    I do agree that meetings via the computer are excellent resources for certain types of sessions. Meetings that solely require discussion, versus reviewing collateral or watching PowerPoints, should be done via Skype or other computer programs to save time and extra effort to schedule a conference room.

    I definitely disagree that the traditional business meeting setup will vanish completely.

  2. rmmoore5 says:

    The traditional business meeting is definitely not dead, but I agree that it needs a facelift. Because of how busy our society is, it’s hard to get a person’s full attention in a traditional meeting setting. Plus, when meetings are unproductive, it’s a waste of time. I believe meetings are still a great way to communicate to a group as a whole and brainstorm, but I think there are better ways to do so. I know that corporate team building events are becoming popular in relation to meetings. They allow businesses to have the traditional meeting but in a fun environment. I like the tips you provided on how to revamp the traditional meeting. Businesses should honestly take these into consideration when that time comes to schedule another meeting.

  3. bmalex says:

    This post is interesting to me because the author didn’t really define what a “meeting” is, and that’s probably because it can be hard to do. Do meetings have time limits? Do they have attendee requirements? Do they have a set number of action items to be accomplished?

    Meetings are critical in the business world, which certainly includes PR. They’re a time to plan strategy, brainstorm creative ideas, and clarify the message. But that doesn’t mean it’s a boardroom with 20 people. I have meetings all the time at my internship where it’s just myself, my supervisor, and her direct counterpart. We’ll often meet twice a day to discuss projects and calendar planning.

    I definitely agree that the dynamics of meetings are changing. We’ve all probably seen the GoToMeeting.com commercials that offer Web conferencing. That’s an example of the change and how companies are cutting costs and saving on travel.

    Meetings are a fixture in business. Love them or hate them, they’re not going anywhere.

    • kdaoust says:

      I have to agree that meetings are critical in the business world, however I disagree that meetings have to be conducted in person. You can still brainstorm ideas and do strategic planning via video conferencing, as long as everyone is on the same page with needed documents. That means the coordinators of the meetings have to be on top of agendas and other documents needed and send them out ahead of time. But then again, they have to do that for in-person meetings as well.

      Just as journalism is evolving into a more online world, so are meetings. And honestly, we shouldn’t fight it — just let it happen.

  4. kpang says:

    I think there’s some intrinsic value in face-to-face meetings that would just be completely lost in a meeting via Skype or through any other virtual means. I agree that meetings via video saves time and is a viable alternative, but the personal contact through actual, physical meetings is helpful in developing healthy and productive habits and relationships in the workplace. I don’t necessarily agree that meetings should have to stay on track or have time limits. Although that might work best for some workplaces, in others it is valuable to allow time to brainstorm and even stray off track and discover new tactics and ideas.

    During my past internship, we would have meetings every Monday morning. These meetings didn’t stick to an agenda or have a time limit, and always included casual conversation about what everyone did during their weekend among business talk such as status updates and what to expect for the coming week. In addition to these meetings, there were also multiple times throughout the week when we would get together just to brainstorm in a sort of spur-of-the- moment internal meeting among associates, interns and anyone who wanted to be included or had an idea.

    The structure of business meetings is definitely changing, but not necessarily in the same ways across the board. They are changing more so to better meet the needs in each individual workplace.

  5. srmccab1 says:

    I completely agree with the idea that it is easy to become overwhelmed and inundated with meetings. Between in-person meetings and conferences calls it can end up taking your entire day.

    So while I agree that meetings rarely accomplish much, they are important tools in the business world. They help us know where each of us stands and aid collaboration to achieve our goals. Meetings can be extremely useful.

    However, I, like most, find them to be uninteresting and a repeat of what we usually already know. When I read this post, I immediately thought of something strange I’ve heard a couple of times, the idea of bringing toys and trinkets to meetings. Toys can help stimulate our creativity, improve attention span and relieve stress, according to the Office Playground, which specializes in creating toy kits for meetings. Doesn’t sound like a bad idea to me. Anything to break up the monotony of meetings is something worth trying.

    • jweishar says:

      I think meetings are important because they keep things personable, it’s a good way to touch base. I definitely agree that they need a change to keep them alive.

      Your idea of bringing toys or other objects into meetings is interesting and I could see why it would work. Looking at something other than a piece of paper or the leader of the meeting sounds like it would break it up a little bit and keep everyone focused.

      While I’m all for the development of technology, I would just hate to see basic things like face-to-face communication go out the door eventually. I think things would get even more boring if that happened. I definitely think that the interaction in meetings is necessary for work — just maybe not as frequently.

  6. bajohn10 says:

    I agree with the previous comments in that meetings are not dead at all. I would also be hesitant to say that Skype will completely take over. I believe there is something very important in face-to-face communication. You get a better understanding of a person’s character and work ethic. I addition, I believe more gets done in a real -world setting.

    As we saw in our lectures, some employees do not even have face time with their bosses. That is troublesome because phone calls and e-mails are not enough to sustain a working relationship. I think it should be every manager’s goal to meet with their employees at least once a week. If there is not a lot of business in a given week, perhaps that would be a good time to use Skype.

    I am interested to see if the Skype trend continues as you suggested.

  7. alervin says:

    This topic kind of reminds me of that movie Up In The Air where the job went virtual — over the computer in a Skype-like setting. As we saw in that movie, it does not work well. People want face-to-face interaction when getting fired, hired, interviewed or just having a routine meeting.

    I do agree that some businesses hold meetings too often (daily is too often), but they do need to have in-person meetings sometimes (maybe once a week) to go over what is happening in the workplace. This sort of personal interaction lets employees know that their boss takes enough interest to meet with them in person. Just meeting over Skype or another channel creates distance between employees and employers.

  8. shuscher says:

    I personally think that meetings can be vital for success. In our field, communication is key and it’s important to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Obviously, there just needs to be a happy medium. I do agree that there’s no reason to have an excess of meetings that just feel drawn out and unnecessary. Just like with anything else, moderation and efficiency are essential in meetings. We need to keep them on task and to the point.

    As far as technology goes, I think companies need to use what works best. If you can have a productive meeting from two ends of the world by using Skype, by all means do it. Technology has expanded so much over the years and it’s meant to make our lives easier because of it. Obviously, in-person meetings have their advantages. But when it comes down to it, just make sure the job gets done.

  9. latipton says:

    I don’t think traditional meetings will ever be completely extinct, but I do think with the advance of technology and our busy lives, frequent meetings can be overlooked.

    New communication (blogs, social media, Internet, Skype) are undoubtedly important tools, especially in the field of PR. However, I still stand relatively traditional when it comes to communication. No form of communication will ever be more powerful than face-to-face. You can share tangible information, look at plans up-close, sense non-verbal communication, feel from one another, and much more. In my book, it’s also much easier to get inspiration from face-to-face communication.

    Meetings are essential when talking about starting a new project, planning, collaborating, and keeping yourself and others in check. Each week in class, we submit a memo detailing where we are in our PR campaign for our client. Imagine that instead of a memo, we had a face-to-face meeting. Maybe you would disagree, but I think that talking about what I’ve done and what I’d like to do and getting immediate feedback would be beneficial. However, lack of time prevents this from being the case, which is probably the case in many businesses as well.

  10. jmjohn27 says:

    I agree with you when you say meetings need a “face-lift” but I do not think meetings are unproductive as they are. In my experience, the general feel toward meetings usually depend on three things: who is running it, what it is about, and the incentives for employees to attend.

    Meetings at my work are awesome! I attribute that to the fact that I feel like my insights are respected and what I say matters. I think many traditional business meetings aren’t really “meetings” as much as they are one-sided lectures. If people are encouraged to be active in the conversation then it tends to prove more productive and people don’t feel like it is a waste of time if their ideas are respected. Alternative methods to conduct meetings such as Skype can be beneficial because it brings people together without the need for costly travel arrangements and makes what could be a two-night business trip into a two-hour meeting. It definitely is more cost effective and efficient … personable, on the other hand, maybe not so much.

  11. shotchk1 says:

    I am in favor of the new business meeting model. So many times I have sat in a meeting for an hour and only five minutes of it pertained to me. So why not hold a meeting where I can multitask? Another aspect to consider is the Skype interview. This new way to apply for your next career move really allows for expansion. Coming from someone who wants to move 2,000 miles away, this developing interview process is a dream come true.
    Read more about the online interview at: http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1930838,00.html

  12. fspangeh says:

    I also thought of the movie Up In The Air and how the movie showed that going virtual did not help anyone. I think we already are losing touch of personal relationships and interactions with instant messaging, Facebook, texting, ad nauseum. If we continue to reduce personal interactions, it will negatively affect our jobs, personal lives and even social skills.

    While it may be convenient to use a more virtual approach, it should never replace personal interactions.

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