Is it just me or do meetings with men take less time than meetings with women?
I’m asking the question following some recent experiences with male clients that took me by surprise.
What do you think?
I don’t want to make assumptions or offend either sex. So please read my thoughts and let me know if the same has happened to you. I’m genuinely intrigued to hear what you think.
These are the two experiences that led me to write this post.
Two meeting extremes
I recently had a 2-hour meeting with a female. It was about an upcoming web copywriting project she wanted me to work on. The upshot was there had been little progress on the project and there was nothing for me to quote on just yet. She didn’t tell me this until right at the end of our time together. I came out of the meeting feeling frustrated. I’d wasted a couple of valuable hours that could have been better spent elsewhere. But I could tell you all the details of her recent holiday and her children’s progress at college!
At the opposite end of the scale, I met with two male clients for a comms planning session. We began with the usual pleasantries and questions about how business was going. Then it was straight down to business. We planned a whole month’s worth of activity. If our thoughts drifted on to another subject, one of the men always brought our focus back to the task in hand. I looked at the clock at the end of the session and was astonished to see it had only taken us 45 minutes!
Chatty vs. Snappy
Most women like to chat (I know this, I am a chatty female), but I often get 30 minutes into a meeting and think, “Flip, I need to get down to business!” It normally starts with a discussion around how the family is, where you’ve been on holiday and how work is going. I am as guilty as the next person of going off on a tangent.
I think it's a lot to do with empathy. Women find it easy to empathise and often build business relationships based on friendship. It’s a really great foundation for a successful partnership but it’s not always the most effective use of our time. With so many people complaining of being time poor, perhaps managing meetings more efficiently is the way forward.
I am much more efficient in meetings when I go in with an agenda or I’m on a research mission with a set of questions I need to ask. But I’ve also experienced excruciatingly long meetings with both men and women where the constant chatter, distractions, and going off on a tangent mean you achieve nothing.
As I weigh up the evidence, I suspect your meeting style simply comes down to your personality and preferred ways of working. It’s not ‘Meeting like a Man’ that makes meetings productive, it’s ‘Meeting like a Manager’. We can learn a lot from those who manage meetings effectively and make the most of their time. Time management is one of those subjects we discuss endlessly and share tips on at networking meetings, yet how many of us go back to the office and start to make changes?
So let’s all try these three tips to start meeting like a manager:
Agree meeting outcomes in advance
Arrive with an agenda or a list of questions to ask
Appoint someone to keep the discussion on track
Could something this simple give you back extra hours in your day? Let me know how it works!