Seven Ways to Make Your Meetings
More Productive... and Fun!
1. Determine if a meeting is really necessary.
Will a few phone calls or face-to-face discussions accomplish
the same thing? One client of mine uses her company's mission and values
as a measuring stick. If she can't relate the purpose of the proposed
meeting to company goals, she will cancel it.
2. Have an agenda.
A no-brainer you say? Yes, but amazingly enough, more
than 60 percent of meetings do not have prepared agendas. This simple
step can cut unproductive meeting time by up to 80 percent. Your agenda
should be specific, not vague. For example, "Garfinkle Project"
isn't as effective as "Determine funding and priorities for Garfinkle
Project." And be sure to distribute your agenda ahead of time with
the appropriate background information.
3. Invite only those who will contribute to your success.
What's more important? Hurting someone's feelings or achieving
the success of your project? The fewer people involved, the more productive
the meeting. Likewise, don't feel obligated to go to meetings just because
you were invited. Ask yourself, "Could I spend this time on something
more important?" If the answer is "yes," suggest someone
from your team to represent you.
4. Communicate your objectives and desired outcomes.
Everyone in the room should know, in advance, the purpose
of the meeting, why they were invited, and what they are expected to contribute.
5. Start on time.
"Don't make exceptions," recommends Harold Taylor,
a Time Consulting firm. "If someone arrives late, explain to him
or her that you are now on item two or whatever. Don't apologize for starting
on time and resist the temptation to summarize the progress to date for
every late arrival. If they ask, tell them you'll update them after the
6. Stay focused.
Determine time limits for each topic and stick to them.
If something comes up that's not on the agenda, reschedule it for discussion
at another time. Taylor suggests placing priority items that will generate
the least discussion at the beginning of the agenda, while saving contentious
items to the end.
7. Summarize and assign responsibility.
Before adjourning, summarize the action items, who is
responsible for each, and in what timeframe. Schedule the next meeting,
but only if one is really necessary.