All over the world, people are giving reports to team meetings, staff meetings, meetings of boards of directors, and they’re charged with “bringing everyone up to speed.” Then they’re given five minutes on the agenda.
Everything is bad about this approach. Let’s start with the word “report.” “Report” connotes a person giving an update to a superior, as in the military. There’s a built-in power dynamic that puts the person reporting at a disadvantage. It makes them think they have to cover everything they’ve done, which is impossible.
Second, what’s valuable about meeting in person is getting the insight of the people around you with the full benefit of interaction. Use the five minutes to ask questions and get information you couldn’t get from a report.
Third, five minutes is unrealistic. Five minutes sends the message: “we are doing our due diligence by having these departments report on what they’re up to,” not “we’re interested in a substantive discussion.”
Let’s be honest about the purpose of reports, and more diligent about how we use the precious time we spend meeting in person. Send reports ahead of time. Establish that the group culture is to read them before the meeting and prepare any questions. If someone doesn’t read the reports, don’t take valuable time to brief them; they missed out.