Boring Meetings Are Beyawnce

A high-octane chocolate cake offering a double shot of espresso will be our dessert today because it’s time to wake up those meetings that are presently asleep at the wheel. Get ready for the instant sobering realization that your routine meetings, affectionately known as nap time to your staff, are in dire need of a jump-start.

Chocolate cake with coffee butter cream
Chocolate Espresso Cake with Coffee Buttercream

In a word, your meetings are narcoleptic inducing agony. The comfortable cruise control mode you’ve set is silently killing your career aspirations and choking your team’s productivity while you erroneously believe that you are accomplishing something. A quick analysis of what your meetings are truly achieving will undoubtedly reveal that adjustments are in order.

Who run the world? Currently, not you.

Many managers and perhaps even you secretly love routine meetings. Oh yes you do! Just try to take one away and watch what happens; panic and elaborate justifications will surface as to the monumental importance of said meeting. Even leaders working crazy hours fight to keep their unproductive meetings in place. The reason being, meetings can be a kind of woobie or comfortable routine filling the calendar masquerading as productivity. Indeed, many meetings are simply mindless busy work in its finest glory. As a test, try asking your team 15 minutes after the meeting what consequential items were covered. Crickets?

Perfunctory meetings are rampant at all levels and senior management can be the worst offenders as they have a tendency to talk at you, robbing you of valuable time and boring you to tears simultaneously. Confession, I’ve spent a bit of time in this category myself. Your team can help hold you accountable if you are brave enough to let them give you feedback.

Listen lady, I’ve always facilitated crap meetings and it has been just fine so I’m not changing now, you are snidely rationalizing to yourself.

True, you used to be able to sustain ineffective meetings because your organization wasn’t encumbering you with shit-tons of ineffectual email. (For your reference, Urban Dictionary defines a shit-ton as an ambiguously large number, larger than a crapton, but less than a holyf*ckton.) Let’s get serious about culling your meeting schedule down to the bare minimum so you can give yourself and your team hours of time back in their schedules each week. You are getting fiercer…

Jump-start Your Meetings:

  • What does your team need to be more successful? Scrap the dusty agendas from yesteryear and write your own.
  • How can I facilitate this meeting in half the amount of time? Your team will probably have some brilliant ideas, like stop talking, so please listen to them.
  •  What is the purpose of this meeting? Is that valuable enough to pay for?
  • What tangible results should I receive from this meeting?
  • What is my contribution to this meeting? What do I expect from the team?
  • How much preparation is required? None? If you are reading reports then it’s time for an intervention. A thoughtful analysis would be a much better contribution.
  • Which parts of the meeting can be accomplished without a meeting? Probably 95%.
  • What new items should be on the agenda?

Prada doesn’t go on sale…

Earning bigger bonus checks should help soothe the sting of change and refocus everyone on the long-term material gains of enhanced productivity. Or just better work-life balance can be the richest reward of all for making important adjustments to your time-management. Be prepared for the feelings that will inevitably surface when you restructure intellectual nap time, the 90-minutes formerly known as your meeting. Communicate the time set-aside for group outings or team drinks so your socialites don’t burst into blubbery tears over the streamlined schedule. Reassure your team that you still adore them but are making these changes because the new you doesn’t do meetings for less than $10,000 a day and future speaking engagements will be booked via your agent. Big time doesn’t waste time; therefore, you’ll now be diligently working on the critically important and courageous tasks everyone else is avoidingNo more cruise control on your watch.   

Don’t scrap all meetings but please consider cutting the time you spend in them in half as a place to start. Eradicate the excuse of being too busy by taking control of your time. Now drop the woobie, get your hot sauce and go slay. You run the world! 

Adapted from Devil’s Food Cake Recipe  Chocolate Cakes by Elinor Klivans.

Recipe

2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped

2 cups cake flour

2/3 cup unsweetened dutch process cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup white sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

2 Tablespoons of espresso powder that has been dissolved in 2 Tablespoons of warm water.

Sift dry ingredients: flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt

Melt unsweetened chocolate and let cool

Beat butter and sugars until well-combined on medium speed for 3 minutes, then add eggs and vanilla and beat another two minutes

Add melted chocolate on low speed, then the espresso powder

Alternate flour mixture with with buttermilk until smooth

Pour into buttered 9″ pans and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes

Alternatively,  Beatty’s Chocolate Cake is also another delicious alternative for the cake.

Espresso buttercream frosting

Bittersweet ganache for the filling

Enjoy!

Disclaimer: The story and recipe above should not be considered advice as the readers and users of Chocolate Cake Mondays are not clients and therefore CCM is not liable for reader’s reliance on the information herein.