One thing I love about reading the Sunday New York Times is what I stumble upon while reading the article I intended to read. A few Sundays ago I was reading an article titled, The Nazi’s Killer Her Father and Then She Married One. While continuing the article further in the section, I stumbled upon an article on Microsoft and employee unhappiness. This article proved even more interesting than the Nazi article. Microsoft (MS) found a team of employees much unhappier than all of the other teams. Two people were charged with slicing and dicing the metadata to figure out why.
The team’s unhappiness wasn’t caused by the 27 hours a week they spent in meetings. That was normal for MS. Unhappiness was not caused by all the work they took home nor the week-ends they worked. Unhappiness was caused by attending meetings with 10-20 participants. This was termed meeting bloat. Meetings with less than 10 attendees, participants felt heard.
From a communication perspective there is a way for an individual to protect their value and be effective even in the midst of meeting bloat. Unless you are the one scheduling the meeting and inviting the attendees, you may not be able to directly alter meeting bloat.
In communication you control three things and only three things. They happen to be the same three things you control in life: you, your message, your environment to a degree. Unless you are in charge of the meeting, you don’t control meeting bloat.
You can control to a degree how much you are heard, whether there are two or twenty people in the meeting. One way to do that is to BUILD YOUR RAMP. An on ramp is designed to quickly get the onboarding car at the same speed as those already on the road.
You build your own ON RAMP into the conversation. You build a ONE, TWO OR THREE PART RAMP. Build it with the confidence that once you build it, you can drive on it at full speed.
Enter in the conversation by building your ramp BEFORE you are sure of what you are going to say: One thing I would like to add, two things you may be missing, three points to consider . . .
When you BUILD YOUR RAMP, it will matter less if your meeting is meeting skinny or meeting BLOAT. Control the things you can control, in this case BUILD YOUR RAMP even before you are sure what you will say. I have the confidence in you that it will be brilliant.