How to Get the Most Out of Meetings


Vice President, Strategic Sales Development , Business Development


Every professional in America has complained about meetings at one point or another. They’re too long, too boring, too unproductive, or there’s just too many of them. For some, the problem is ballooned into a reality where they have meetings to plan meetings.

There are 25 million meetings per day in the US, amounting to a $37 billion bill for unproductive meetings. 92% of people multitask at meetings, and 49% admit to doing entirely unrelated work. Clearly something is wrong here.

One legend of business saw this years ago and took steps to correct it: Steve Jobs. The founder of Apple wasn’t willing to indulge a lot of time-sucking meetings, so he implemented a stringent code on them to make them productive.

As Drake Baer writes at Inc, Jobs was insistent on having as few meetings as possible.

In his book “Insanely Simple,” longtime Jobs collaborator Ken Segall detailed what it was like to work with him.

In one story, Jobs was about to start a weekly meeting with Apple’s ad agency.

Then Jobs spotted someone new.

“He stopped cold,” Segall writes. “His eyes locked on to the one thing in the room that didn’t look right. Pointing to Lorrie, he said, ‘Who are you?'”

Calmly, she explained that she was asked to the meeting because she was a part of related marketing projects.

Jobs heard her, and then politely told her to get out.

Jobs also promoted an “accountability mindset” at meetings. Each item was entrusted to a specific person. It made sense, humans have a tendency to pass off responsibility unless explicitly told that they can’t. It’s why outfielders need to call “Got it!” and why CPR training teaches that only one specific person should call 911, not the whole room.

He also banned Powerpoint. “Slideshows were banned because Jobs wanted his team to debate passionately and think critically,” Baer writes, “all without leaning on technology.”

“I hate the way people use slide presentations instead of thinking,” Jobs told [Walter] Isaacson. “People would confront a problem by creating a presentation. I wanted them to engage, to hash things out at the table, rather than show a bunch of slides. People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint.”

For more, read the fill story at Inc.