From Meeting Mayhem to Managed Meetings

A friend recently started a new job and discovered the company likes to have many meetings, often for no apparent reason. The meetings are poorly run, too many people are in the meetings and they go on and on with no outcome. My friend is feeling frustrated at the amount of time she is wasting in these unproductive meetings.

So, I thought a few meeting dos and don’ts would be helpful for all of those companies out there struggling with meeting mayhem.

Do:

  • Have a goal for the meeting. Think through what you want to accomplish. What is the reason for the meeting? What outcome do you want as a result of meeting?
  • Choose who attends the meeting carefully. More people does not a productive meeting make. Only invite those people who are crucial to the discussion and/or goal.
  • Have an agenda. Be clear on what you want to talk about, how long you will focus on each agenda item and how long the meeting will last.
  • Start the meeting on time even if people are late. Send the message that you value people’s time and will not hold everyone hostage until the latecomers arrive.
  • Have a person facilitating the meeting to keep it on track and the participants focused on the agenda. Bring any tangential conversations back to the subject on hand.
  • End on time even if you have not finished discussing what was on the agenda. If you are close to a resolution then ask the participants if they have 10 or 15 minutes more to meet. Be considerate of people’s time. Everyone is busy and this one meeting isn’t the only thing they have on their schedule.

 Don’t:

  • Arrive late to the meeting. One of the most frustrating things is showing up on time to a meeting and then having it delayed by latecomers.
  • Call a meeting just to discuss something with no resolution. There must be an outcome from a meeting even if it’s to decide whether to move forward on a project.
  • Sidetrack the meeting by talking to your neighbor or going off on a tangent about something unrelated. Stick to the subject on hand.
  • Interrupt participants. Let them make their point then speak.
  • Dominate the meeting. Only speak if you have something to add to the discussion.

Meetings are hard. Most of us were not taught how to properly run or attend meetings. Follow these tips and you should have much more productive meetings. If your company could use more help getting your meetings under control consider hiring a trainer, such as myself, to teach your team meeting fundamentals.

What meeting no nos have you experienced?

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