Throughout my professional life I think meetings have been one of the biggest sources of frustration. I’m one of those people who really likes to work at work and while I do find some meetings very useful, and the occasional meeting totally necessary, I think the majority of meetings I’ve attended over the years could be done away with.
Or at least done better.
I wanted to take a stab at offering up some tips to get more out of meetings in general. These come from years of being frustrated by useless meetings and a true desire to help people get the most out of their work day. If you’ve got more tips, please add them in the comments.
h3. How To Get The Most Out Of Your Meetings
# Don’t call a meeting unless you have to. Make sure–really sure–that the meeting is needed.
# Invite only those people who will get something out of the meeting. This goes for recurring meetings too. Only have people come if they are going to contribute and/or get something out of the meeting.
# Have a detailed agenda. If you think you’re meeting doesn’t need one. you might think about not having the meeting. I like to have time limited attached to each item as well as it helps keep people from wandering off-topic.
# Schedule your meetings at least a few days in advance to make sure everyone has time to prepare. Hastily planned meetings are a no-no.
# Cancel your meeting if you think you no longer need to have it or if everyone is not prepared. Never, I repeat, never have a meeting just for the sake of having it.
# Start on time.
# Set a time limit. Then think about cutting it in half. If you think you want an hour meeting, try a half-an-hour. I’ve found that if you plan for longer you’ll just end up wasting time. For some reason people think that an hour is “standard duration” for a meeting. Sometimes half of that is just fine and it can force you to get down to business.
# Have a leader. Every meeting should have a leader who can hold everyone involved accountable to keeping things on track.
# Stick to the agenda. If you want to chit-chat at the start of the meeting–put that into the agenda.
# End your meeting on time. Use a timer if you need to and resist the temptation to go over.
These tips will apply to many meetings, but of course there are exceptions. The bottom-line here is that meetings should be held only when they’re constructive and make good use of everyone’s time and that they should be prepared well in advance to make sure everyone gets the best use of their time.