Home' Charter : 0711 Charter July Contents Paul Vincent FCA is the founding director
of Vincents Chartered Accountants
in Brisbane. Since walking out of an
unprepared meeting a few years ago,
Vincent came to the conclusion that most
meetings are in fact a waste of time.
“The only reason you need a meeting is
to actually make a decision on something,”
says Vincent. “If a decision has to be made
by more than one person, then you need
a meeting. The shortest possible meeting
is the best type of meeting to have. One
of the biggest problems with meetings is
that people turn up and they have no idea
what’s going to happen or what’s going
on! At least half of the business meetings
we have shouldn’t be had. I see people in
meetings who, I think it should say on their
CVs: professional meeting attendee. They
go from one meeting to another and fnish
their meetings at 4pm – then fnally start
Can businesses survive without chaired
gatherings and PowerPoint presentations?
Vincent’s staff manages quite well. The few
they have are effective, result-driven and
avoid distracting presentations.
“We have two full partners meetings a
year and they generally last one hour. If
we’re making some large decisions, for
instance if we’re talking about moving
offces and committing to a $20 million
dollar lease – there’s a meeting required
“But very rarely do you need all the
partners and directors in a meeting
together to make one decision. The
question you have to ask is ‘why am
I having this meeting?’. If you reply with
‘because we do this once every month’,
then that is a bad answer.”
Not many people have the courage to
walk out of non-applicable meetings. But
Vincent has no time to waste. “I once (not
here) walked out of a meeting where the
presenter wasn’t prepared. We all turned
up and received all of this cold info and
a 100-page document. On top of that, a
decision had to be made then! So I said:
‘Well I won’t be making any decisions
today because you’ve only just given me
the information and I’m not going to digest
it in the time allocated, so I’m leaving!’.”
– Cathy Drago
July 2011 I Charter 21
VALUE YOUR TIME AS MUCH
AS YOUR MONEY
Let me ask a very simple question: if
someone asked you for $500, would you
give it without hesitation? Of course not.
You would want to know why and would
need some good reason before giving
the money away. We are constantly being
asked for our time, to participate in too
many meetings and we are often happy to
give our time away quite easily.
Be as careful with your time as you are
with your money. Ask the reason for the
meeting and try to determine whether this
is the best value for your time. Ask for an
agenda before committing, do not simply
accept a meeting request. With technology
it is now so easy to organise meetings
through Outlook or another online method.
This can be quite dangerous.
It is simple to click on accept when
you receive a meeting invitation via email.
Don’t. Question the value of any meeting
You can put a dollar value on your time.
If you work in public practice you probably
already know your hourly rate. If you don’t
work in practice, simply take your salary,
super, bonus and so on – then divide this
to get an hourly fee. This will give you an
idea of what you are giving away when
accepting a meeting.
LESS IS BEST – ELIMINATE
The most important advice regarding
effective meetings is also the most simple:
eliminate unnecessary meetings. You need
to be protective of your time and carefully
select the meetings you will accept.
I know it is easier to say than to apply,
but if you have worked with highly effective
and successful people, you have probably
noticed that they will question the aim of a
meeting and ask why they should be there
before deciding to go.
Keep this in mind: whenever you are
saying yes to a meeting, you are saying no
to something else. The one or two hours you
will spend in this meeting are gone forever.
They could have been spent on a much more
important project, which would have had
much more impact on your performance.
So one of your key tools here is the word no.
And if you decide to go, then assess the
right amount of time needed. We often book
one-hour meetings or in multiples of one
hour. I often have 30-minute meetings and
even 45-minute ones. It is interesting to see
how, when you give a shorter time frame,
everyone gets more quickly to the point.
STICK TO IT
During the meeting, make sure you stick to
the agenda. Have a chair to make sure the
meeting keeps on track.
A simple rule for an effective meeting is
to start with the most important items. It
is very frustrating to have a meeting, go
through many minor items and only start
discussing the very important one
10 minutes before the end. You either
rush an important discussion or decide
to spend more time than planned to the
detriment of other things you had planned
to do afterwards. Sometimes you may
even be forced to arrange an additional
meeting as a result.
After a meeting, make sure you take five
minutes to plan your next steps. You may
have committed yourself to a number of
tasks, both large and small, during the
Most meetings are
a waste of time:
Paul Vincent FCA
Links Archive 0811 Charter Aug Navigation Previous Page Next Page