I dread meetings. How many times have you sat in a meeting, frustrated because one participant held the group hostage with incessant blathering? Or there was no clear agenda and the meeting wandered all over the place? What a waste of time!
Don't subject those in your meeting to such misery! Rather, conduct a clear, crisp meeting that is efficient and productive. Here are a few non-negotiables:
- Have a clear grasp of the objectives of the meeting. If you conduct a regularly scheduled meeting and there is no business, cancel the meeting rather than waste people's time.
- Create an agenda for the meeting, with the most important and urgent topics listed first.
- Determine the amount of time to be allotted for each item on the agenda and list it next to the agenda item.
- Note on the agenda the work that should be completed by participants by the time of the meeting.
- A week (or longer, depending on the needs of your participants) before the meeting, send a reminder and the agenda to participants. The agenda should include the allotted times and expected work to be done. This allows people time to gather their thoughts about the agenda items.
- Ask for an RSVP so you know who will be attending. If a key player with key information will not be attending, for example, it will have a significant impact on your meeting.
- Start your meeting on time regardless of the number of participants present. This respects the time of those already present. It also sends a message that you will start on time and will run an efficient meeting.
- Move through each agenda item, making sure the discussion is not dominated by one or more persons. If necessary, limit the time each person may speak. In addition, specifically ask quiet participants to share their ideas.
- If necessary, speak privately with the person who is dominating and ask him/her to help you out by encouraging the quieter participants to enter in the discussion.
- When decisions are made, determine action points to carry out those decisions. Schedule follow up on the action points.
- End the meeting on time. If there were agenda items not covered, add them to the agenda for the next meeting.
- If there are consistently too many agenda items to be covered at the meeting, consider adding additional meetings. If too few, meet less frequently.
- Utilize conference calls or virtual meetings, even if your members are local, saving travel time and expense.
- Try stand-up meetings. People are not sitting in comfortable chairs and will want to expedite business.
When your participants know that your meetings are worthy of their time, their attendance will be consistent and productive. You will conduct your business in short order. And you will rescue yourself and others from boring, ineffective, and time-wasting meetings.