That Meeting Could Have Been An Email

It's fascinating when you see someone proficient, successful even, in one arena, pronounce absolute rubbish masquerading as insightful expertise in another.

I've seen this throughout my own career. When a senior exec has befallen the cult-of-personality trap. Captured by hubris. Where the whirlwind of opportunities can infinitesimally shrink attention and decision spans, to them their Emperor's new clothes are always amazing, and like for the Queen, everywhere smells of fresh paint.

Also one type of the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

Yes, there are likely elements building above and beyond their inevitable luck which are rightly laudable. But way more often than you'd think, on matters away from their core work, they spout drivel.

Ever asked me for Marketing advice, by the way?

A recent example is of the wisdom of this post's title.

I came across it, as uttered by a chap who seems to be an American business celeb.

It is apparent that self-made billionaire Mark Cuban holds obvious clout.

Yet all he does with this stipulation, is reveal that he;

  • does not know how to run a meeting,
  • has no repeatable, refinable prioritisation skillset, &
  • dismisses empathy in favour of everything being solely about him.

Let's pause to re-state the validity of the premise.

Meetings can indeed be our biggest time-waster.

"It kills so much time", being a lament we can surely all understand.

In my current quest to re-energise video meetings, one of my pillars is indeed (counter-intuitive, you might think) to reduce the number held. Only use the medium of live videoing for a purpose where it outshines other options. So yes, some meetings called ought've really been an email instead.

The issue here though is, all his gripes as framed are symptoms of worst-practice.

Meetings in itself is not the disease. Not knowing how to use, run and end them is the problem.

Let's list some of his cited moans.

  • we over-call and over-meet
  • most meetings get sidetracked by trivial small talk
  • seldom work through a productive agenda
  • prefers to communicate business matters via email
  • hates having to arrange everything around other people

Some merits here, naturally. Yet all avoidable. And not by dint of removing Meetings from your way of doing business.

The rationale given for 'giving in' to convening a meeting is telling;

“I try to only do meetings if I have to come to a conclusion or there’s no other way — same with phone calls”

Whilst we can all share such sentiment at times this, in my view, is not the behaviour of someone running an enterprise for the benefit of all stakeholders.

Think of being the proverbial the frog. Endeavouring nicely. Only to encounter the scorpion wanting to hitch a lift across your stretch of river. Endeavouring it seems, not so nicely.

I use the word nicely here, not only in its modern-day pun-able form, but also in its truest meaning, that of optimal balance.

Leaving aside the vagueness of '...or there's no other way', (maybe depth welled during the podcast quoted), and whilst noticing his admiration of the stand-up meeting [my blogs touching on these incl; 2023, 2015 & 2007], here's an opening trio of avenues that will raise your meeting game. And clearly take you farther than someone who seems to have wonderfully ridden the first wave of business desktop computing and web broadcasting back in the day.

First up, let's remix the above title;

That email thread should have been a meeting.

I've blogged on this before. Specifically, that long train of emails - possibly lasting several elapsed days, even weeks - should have been, say, an 8-minute video meeting at the very outset. Such formats abound, like to cite just one, problem bombing.

This leads in to why you hold meetings in the first place. When your focus shifts to genuinely moving things and people forward in the most productive manner, you tend to see results roar.

Which also allows associated thinking to shine. Such as whenever a meeting gets mooted, does it already have a title? And for me, this is best expressed as a question. The question that you seek the forum to resolve.

Next, is the issue of async work. Another frequent blog topic of mine lately [eg, from back in 2021].

Our wealthy protagonist does seem aware of this theme. For he likes to respond to things 'on his schedule', which can often occur, 'in the middle of the night'. As you wish.

There's several options for engaging prospects that can yield dividends without requiring real-time contact. Work them out. Try them out. Make them count.

Finally here, we ought consider the scheduling of those with whom we seek to meet.

I think particularly in terms of the classic mismatch between Managers and Makers time. Making this work in our favour is of fundamental use.

Remember the days when we sellers arranged calls with our top prospect execs whilst they were driving to or from the office at dawn or dusk?

We needn't necessarily be so crepuscular these days. But being sensitive to when we are not interrupting or disrupting their workflow and energies can be a vital consideration in gaining us greater airtime. With consequent priority level rising.

A crucial 'point of difference' of a video call that sells, is that you can show someone something. So in this case, if you have one item to run through of import to the prospect, how's your pitch for talking them through it which renders merely sending through a slidedeck or such like unattractive to them?

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