Monday, October 21, 2013

Are Your Meetings a Waste of Time?

Years ago my father was the Chief Engineer at an open cut copper mine. He and fellow executives would meet every Monday morning at the top of the open cut where they would lean against the safety railing and discuss the weeks coming issues. They called it the "weeping rail".

A meeting where attendees stand up for the duration is destined to be a short meeting, so a good strategy for ensuring meetings are short is to have them where people can't sit.

It doesn't matter though where you hold a meeting, provided it is productive. So many meetings I have attended turned into talkfests, or whingefests where several people complained about everything and all the others at the meeting were bored to death.

So, what is the strategy for a productive meeting?

  1. Always have an agenda ... something important that needs to be discussed. It need not be written, but it's better if it is so it can become a permanent record
  2. Stick to the agenda items
  3. Don't let people waffle on, stick to the topic succinctly
  4. Cancel the meeting if it's a scheduled meeting and there is nothing important to discuss
  5. If possible, begin the meeting with an end duration in mind
  6. If something needs to be done after the meeting, ensure someone is assigned the task
  7. Record the meeting outcomes
  8. Follow-up on the outcomes after the meeting
  9. Postpone items not discussed to the next meeting if practicable
  10. Where large volumes of reading is required, circulate it before the meeting and ask participants to read it before attending
  11. Ensure participants not in positions that may require emergency contact, switch off their mobile phones for the duration
There may be some other things you can think of. The important thing to remember is that meetings can be a terrible time waster and therefore a killer of productivity if not handled correctly.

How well are you handling your meetings?

Robin

1 comment:

  1. Years ago, funnyman John Cleese had a video of the same name, "Meetings Bloody Meetings" and I used it for communication classes for about five years.

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