A meeting moves at the speed of the slowest mind in the room



“A meeting moves at the speed of the slowest mind in the room. In other words, all but one participant will be bored, all but one mind underused.”
– Dale Dauten

As common as meetings are in business, they tend to accomplish very little. The reason is as Dauten stated.

The tone of meetings tends to be pitched at the lowest common denominator, the one or ones who will understand everything that is happening at the slowest rate. The others usually become distracted.

I doubt that all minds but one are underused. Wandering minds tend to focus on other matters than those that are the focus of the meeting. Or they rest, which is beneficial over the long term because they are ready to do more work once the regular schedule begins again.

Tangents and distractions in meetings can be useful as well. They give people time to think about matters they would not have enough time to consider carefully during their regular work hours. A mind that is underused on the main topic of the meeting may not necessarily be wasting time.

The question that many meeting leaders have is whether ot move forward faster, thus leaving the slower thinkers behind. As with grade school classes that tend to wait for the slowest student, thus leaving the faster thinkers to become distracted and create discipline problems, most meetings move along at a pace that the slowest people can stay up with.

The solution would be to move the meeting faster, then have review meetings with the people who might have missed some of the goings on because they got lost. That kind of personal attention can itself be beneficial to an employee who has trouble keeping up with the faster thinkers but is otherwise a good worker. It boosts self esteem that the leader takes time to give personal attention. Classrooms work well that way too.

What is important is whether the objective(s) of the meeting is accomplished once everyone has had an opportunity to go over the material presented, either in the meeting or privately afterward. The goal is more important than the route each person gets there.

People who think quickly can become mentally tired faster than others. Thus they need a mental rest more often. Mettings can provide that rest because they don’t have to maintain a frantic pace they may set for themselves during their regular work hours.

Bill Allin




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