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Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Effective Meetings Should Have a PAIR

If I told you that only 50% of meeting time is used effectively, would you believe me? (Don’t answer. I can hear you nodding from here.) There’s evidence that virtual meetings score even lower. And not only are pointless meetings annoying, but they are also a drain on your revenue: two hours per week spent in pointless meetings results in a waste of more than $541 billion in employee time.

It’s important to distinguish between effective and efficient meetings.

An efficient meeting starts promptly, stays on track due to good time management, includes as few people as possible, and achieves the stated objective.

Efficiency is a superficial quality. It says nothing about whether the right people were included for the right reasons, or whether the meeting generated any value.

An effective meeting brings a thoughtfully selected group of people together for a specific purpose, provides a forum for open discussion, and delivers a tangible result: a decision, a plan, a list of great ideas to pursue, a shared understanding of the work ahead. Not only that but the result is then shared with others whose work may be affected.

A simple acronym I learned will help us in this regard. Just remember that every meeting should have a PAIR.

PAIR stands for ‘Purpose And Intended Result’

The purpose of a meeting should be clear and stated before it is even called. It should be stated even before the agenda is agreed.

The purpose could be simple, like ‘To discuss the upcoming quarterly campaign’ or ‘To introduce our new CRM system to the sales team’.

Make sure the purpose is clearly stated, so everyone can assess its relevance to them and the time it’s going to take. Make the purpose attractive and inspirational if possible. People can see the purpose and identify whether it’s worth their time and energy attending.

The next part (Intended Result) is just as vital. We say ‘intended’ because it’s possible that the meeting’s overall result could be determined by the discussions carried out and may change during the meeting itself.

Examples of intended results could be: ‘To allocate responsibilities to each team member for the campaign’ or ‘To get buy in from every team member for the CRM system’

You may only have one purpose for the meeting (the ‘why’ it’s being held) but you may have more than one intended result (the ‘what’ you will achieve).

Attendees should be sent the PAIR for the meeting before being invited, so they know what their responsibilities are during and after the meeting. If their time is limited, they may be able to attend for just a section of it that discussed their specific agenda items.

A PAIR also allows you to determine the success of any meeting you may attend. If the intended result is achieved, it’s been a good use of time. If not, it can be re-assessed and determined if changes need to be made for future meetings.

So, ensure that every meeting you run has its PAIR before you invite others. And make sure that you know the PAIR for every meeting you attend.

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