[ This article was originally published at Digital Biographer on 5th September ] © Copyright 2008 Clarocada Ltd. Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 UK: Scotland License.
“Meetings are an addictive, highly self-indulgent activity that corporations and other large organizations habitually engage in only because they cannot masturbate” – Dave Barry
I don’t do meetings any more. I used to do a lot of meetings. But not any more.
The change from meeting to tweeting – where a series of brief exchanges (each a maximum of 140 characters) can make up the content – has been brought about by a variety of factors over the past 15 years or so – but here are the ten factors that I think are critical.
IN GOOGLE TIME
I no longer have a phone book, business directories or yellow pages. Those were essential when I started my first corporation in 1993. But now, I use Google. As a result, I have less patience for slow ways of doing things – I am impatient. I demand speed, efficiency, and immediate results.
I have a laptop computer and a mobile phone, I can work from a cafe terrace in Banyalbufar just as easily as anywhere else. As a result, I don’t have the need to restrict myself to doing business with those who are within easy reach of where I live or work most of the time.
HOME OFFICE DRESS CODE
I don’t need to have an office in the city centre to get my work done – I can do it from my home office. As a result, I don’t need to spend time travelling, and so I use that saved time productively. I also find wearing a suit in my own kitchen a bit pointless, so feel there has to be a very good reason to dress up to go somewhere. I like the fact that my carbon footprint’s lower with less travel.
MY ONLINE VISIBILITY
Whereas I used to have to push information out to people in brochures, newspaper interviews, in meetings, at trade shows, I now have online profiles at LinkedIn, Xing, Ecademy, Facebook, Hyves, Flickr, Friendfeed, MyBloglog etc, and I have blogs and web sites that I can update easily in seconds. As a result, I don’t have to spend so much time introducing myself, and explaining what it is that I, or any of my enterprises provide – people find out about me before they meet me, or get to know me through following my activities online. People can meet me at airports because my photo is online. They can also decide whether they need to waste their time meeting me.
I HATE COFFEE
I don’t really like coffee any more. And I especially never liked paying €5 for a cup of it unless it was refilled all day and came with free wi-fi. As a result, when someone says – let’s have a chat over a coffee, I say “No. Let’s save the time and money, and spend five minutes now working out if we need to meet – and if so, what items on the agenda we can dispense with before we need to have a meeting”.
MEETINGS ARE GETTING SHORTER
I arranged a meeting in London (yes, I do still sometimes meet people) with guys coming from Amsterdam and from the USA without ever using a phone – and although we’d not met before, we have already shared dozens of pieces of information that made the business of the meeting last about ten minutes – and then we ordered some food and drinks. We then talked about other interesting stuff and new possibilities – not just ‘the business we need to discuss’.
CUT THE CHIT-CHAT
I can get to know people online by following their updates – or by looking at what they’ve said, or who they’ve been talking with, or who’s been talking about them – and so with this background, a lot of ‘chit-chat’ becomes unnecessary. As a result, I can filter out people, or filter them in.
YOU CAN DO THIS TOO
You are reading this blog. You can send me emails, you can send me stuff without a courier, you can clarify things in Skitch, you can speak on Skype for free, you can send an instant message or a twitter. But you can do this as suits your agenda – and not be dragged into it by another party with an unknown agenda who wants 100% of your attention – NOW.
I NEVER WANT TO SEE YOU
I can now have customers who I never meet. That used to be very difficult. But now, I can see people, talk to them in real time, swap messages and files, send them sound files and presentations, have a video-conference with them… whether they are half a world away or live around the corner.
LIFE’S TOO SHORT
A friend of mine died suddenly this year. David was 42. He did not suffer fools gladly, and could summarise biblical volumes of information in a pithy, witty phrase. But he ran out of time. We all will.
Now, I realise this might make me sound like an anti-social douche-bag, who’d rather spend his time tapping away at his keyboard than having a normal chat face to face.
But if you’ve met me, you’ll know that I’m a very gregarious and friendly guy who’s always introducing people to each other in social situations. However, that’s because I have time to do that – because I have not been wasting time in avoidable meetings.
I asked a friend about this issue yesterday – here’s what he had to say: –
“I prefer email and tweets and other online communications over telephone and face to face meetings because it allows me to manage my own time. When I’m meeting face to face the other person will automatically assume they have an hour of my time, which seems to be the standard meeting length, and will take all of that time to talk TO me.
In an email I might grasp their concept within 2 minutes and be ready with a reply. Other times I need to think about their message overnight. All of this is impossible in face to face meetings where an immediate reaction and 100% dedication is demanded.”
Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten
So if you want to have a meeting with me here’s how to start the conversation:- Let’s tweet.
But what about you – what’s changed the way you handle meetings over the past few years?
— © Copyright 2008 Clarocada Ltd. Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 UK: Scotland License.
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