Organizing and holding a productive meeting often feels like herding cats.
From strategy sessions to customer calls, getting everyone on the same page can sometimes feel like persuading felines to fall in line.Breaking free from this exercise in corralling futility starts with identifying what makes some meetings inefficient. For leaders, struggles usually stem either from an inability to translate and transfer information or from simply inviting too many people to the meeting.The initial problem is a product of what we call the “universal translator” phenomenon: If two people are on a sales call with a client speaking in highly technical terms, those two must later relay all that information to the employees and departments that can use it. But what if the sales team can’t quite translate that feedback correctly?If the salespeople rely only on their notes and recollections of the conversation, key terms may get lost in the shuffle. This can lead to a big, messy game of telephone in which feedback becomes muddled or misconstrued.The processes after the meeting — determining action items, conducting the post-meeting meeting, etc. — can further zap attendees’ “meeting memory,” or how accurately they remember the meeting’s contents. As time passes, the meeting memory tends to get fuzzier. Revisiting a meeting to figure out what the client really meant can create a back-and-forth that frustrates both the customer and your departments.