|Just ask anyone about meetings and
theyll tell you that there are too many of them, they hate them, nothing gets
accomplished, etc. etc. Theyll say that meetings are: too long, have the wrong
people in the room, often poorly planned, an agenda (if there is one) that contains too
much, and are generally poorly lead. Finally they tell you that the real trouble with
meetings is they are allowed to end without concluding the business at hand.
If you want to eliminate a number of meetings ask yourself:
- What is the objective of the
meeting? If you cannot write a single sentence stating a clear objective,
dont call the meeting.
- Do you have all the required
information? If you still have to get more information chances are
youll have an wasted meeting.
- What if you dont call a
meeting? A simple as this sounds, if the answer is "nothing"
then dont do it.
- Do I have alternatives to a
meeting? Depending on a number of factors such as your relationship with
the meeting attendees, subject matter, decision making capabilities, prior history with
the subject, etc., a memo or email, conference call and/or a series of telephone calls may
be more effective.
After asking yourself these questions, if the answer is yes
there should be a meeting then resolve to have a good one. Every good meeting has certain
qualities which are:
- An objective (or purpose) that all meeting attendees know
- There is an agenda. Hopefully the chairperson has made a
quick calculation of estimated time by item and compared it to the time allotted for the
- The right people are invited. Dont someone sit through
a whole meeting if they have been invited for a particular agenda item, call them in for
the discussion when you reach the particular agenda item.
- The meeting room is properly set-up, and logistics such as
coffee, breaks, handouts, have been organized.
- Presenters at meetings are using visuals, such as overhead
transparencies, or handouts, that are clear, sharp, and concise.
- The chairperson manages the meeting, cuts unnecessary
dialogue, keeps things on track, sticks to the agenda and wastes no time.
- Non-related conversations are gotten out of the way. I
always recommend that the chairperson should settle the group, i.e., get them focused on
the task at hand, by asking attendees to raise subjects, make comments, deal with rumours,
in short make the social chatter part of the meeting by dealing with it up front.
- People come prepared for the meeting and are ready to
- There is a summary of what was accomplished in the meeting.
Frankly when the chairperson does this, it is a reminder to all that the meeting was
productive and worthwhile.
- Follow-up items or activities are assigned, understood and
have deadlines. Objective, time, location, etc. for next meeting (if there is to be one)
When one or more of these qualities are missing, often the
result is a poor meeting. In all sizes of organizations a healthy first towards better
meetings is to talk about it, or do a confidential survey at the end of every meeting.
Better meetings, productive meetings start with the ones you call.
Feel free to use this
article, just give credit where credit is due!
Copyright 1997 © Sid Ridgley