Meetings are a fact of business, but they can also make you want to go running and screaming for the nearest window when they are excessive, poorly run or pointless.
And I’ve heard a story — or a thousand — about some that fit those descriptions.
Tips for Productive Meetings
- Have an agenda. Every time. It doesn’t have to be complex. In the text of an e-mail will do. But if you don’t have time to create an agenda you probably don’t have time to think through what you want to accomplish at the meeting. And in that case, there shouldn’t be a meeting.
- Share background information ahead of time and ask attendees to review it in advance so you don’t waste time in the room on a debrief that could be handled before the meeting.
- Start the meeting on time. The people who got there on time deserve to have their promptness respected.
- Cover the important points first. Then if someone has to leave before the end, you’ve had their participation on the topics where it’s most vital.
- Have your meeting with everyone standing up. Not every meeting is suited to that, but some are. People are more focused and on-task when standing up and it keeps the meeting short.
- If you need reports from everyone around the table, use a timer and give each person a set amount of time. It makes people be succinct and avoids anyone hogging the floor. Yeah. You know who you are.
- Relentlessly pursue ownership. If there are tasks doled out, make absolutely certain that responsibilities are clear. Only way to do that is to say out loud, “So, Bob is going to write the first draft of the proposal by Thursday. Agreed?” No assuming allowed.
- End the meeting on time. It demonstrates organization and, again, respect for others’ time and commitments.