Mark Grimm

 

Boring Meetings Cost Money. Be the White Knight!

Ever been in a boring meeting? Yeah, that’s a question that answers itself.

Boring meetings costs businesses and taxpayers millions of dollars each day because the meetings waste the time and productivity of the people stuck in them.

Why then, isn’t the problem being fixed?

There are two issues:
(1) Too many meetings in the first place
(2) Poor value in the ones that are held

(1) Too frequent
Too often, meetings are the result of a poor internal communication process. You wouldn’t need to “get caught up on things” if clear communication was part of the culture. Meetings are also often used as propaganda or gripe sessions rather than problem solving meetings. And a “touchy-feely” culture often cultivates the desire to include everyone in nearly every decision. That’s overkill.

(2) Poor Value
You get “bored” when you feel there’s nothing in it for you. Indeed, a meeting can be one of the loneliest places if you feel you’re not part of the program. A strong meeting requires the following:

A) Strong Agenda
Must be put in writing, prior to the meeting, that is clear about the desired goal. What’s the end result?

B) Good Preparation
Do your homework ahead of time. Determine what role you are expected to play in making the meeting a success and prepare well for that role. Call or email ahead to get the needed answers, if necessary. Learn about the attendees and their agenda.

C) Know Your Story…In A Nutshell
Based on what you have learned about attendees, think about how to tell your story in a way that interests them. Focus on what value you can deliver to them. Get to the point!

D) Points for Style
Arriving late, whispering too much, shabby appearance, cell phone distractions — they all reflect poorly on you. These negative effects say, “Not Ready for Prime Time.”

E) Listen Well
Sometimes, the real problems don’t become evident until the meeting unfolds. Be observant and proactive.

F) Be the Closer if Needed
Know when to take charge if the meeting facilitator drops the ball. Make sure the question is asked and answered, “When we leave, who’s doing what?

Meetings can be a valuable resource. There is nothing inherently wrong with them. The fault lies with some of the people in them. Be the white knight.

The writer is a longtime communication strategist and corporate trainer.

Cyberbullying Law: Shoot-from-the-Hip Governance

New York’s highest court has ruled annoying speech is protected by the First Amendment. Did we really need a court ruling for that?

Actually, we did. The Albany County Legislature passed a cyberbullying law in 2010 that made annoying speech a crime. It did so even though the county conceded during the appeals process that the law’s language was too broad.

Then why did they pass it in the first place? Because too often, legislation has more to do with political posturing than quality lawmaking. Cyberbullying is harmful to our children and, as the court wrote, the government has a “compelling interest in protecting children from harmful publications.” So lawmakers rushed in to appear to be doing something about it. The law was applied to adults and children. And, the court stated, the language was too broad even if only minors were protected.

These moments —  legislation in the name of popular causes — are when our constitutional protections are most at risk. It’s when we need our lawmakers to be prudent, not shoot from the hip. It’s when citizens need to be most vigilant.

Cyberbullying is a complex problem that requires a number of solutions — better parenting, more awareness and sensible legislation that doesn’t trample the Bill of Rights.

And holding our lawmakers more accountable.

The writer is a longtime First Amendment advocate and former elected official.