8 Essentials for More Productive Meetings

Meetings suck. Even though they may not show it, your colleagues (and even your boss) also think meetings suck. Few will admit it because most of your colleagues are playing the BS corporate game.

But you’re not alone.

You know who else thought meetings were great time wasters? Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush. Love him or hate him, you don’t get to Rumsfeld’s level without knowing how to get things done.

Peter Drucker – management consultant, educator, and author – also thought meetings were time vortexes. In the ‘Effective Executive’ he suggests “Meetings are a symptom of bad organization. The fewer meetings the better.”

But if you want to rise the corporate ladder or build your business empire, meetings are a fact of life. So here are 8 tips for making them as effective and efficient as possible. Stay strong.

1. Determine if the meeting is really required

If you’re simply sharing information, an opinion or a proposal that does not require debate, would an email be more appropriate? Would a leadership decision substitute for a meeting?

2. Minimize time

When booking a meeting, opt for less time than you think is required. Time-pressure helps ensure meeting time is used efficiently. Moreover, don’t stretch out meetings to fill the allotted time. Consider it a success if the meeting objective is satisfied using less than the allotted time.

3. Minimize attendees

Invite only those who need to be part of the discussion. A smaller group facilitates discussion. Moreover, consider the implied cost (hourly wages x time) of the meeting.

4. Determine and communicate the objective

When booking the meeting, summarize the expected content and outcome. Meetings with purpose help accomplish business objectives. Meetings without purpose simply fill time.

5. Start on time; end on time

Respect attendees’ time by starting on time. Those who are late can catch up later.

6. Ensure the meeting is productive

Stick to the agenda, come prepared, don’t regurgitate known information. If a discussion meanders into the irrelevant, add the item to a follow-up list and return to the agenda. If attendees are not prepared end and rebook the meeting.

7. Encourage people to share their views

Many feel uncomfortable talking in large group settings. Encourage participating by asking for opinions, contrary and similar. Reward participation with interest and appreciation.

8. Summarize and follow up

Meetings are fast forgotten. Ensure meetings drive business by summarizing the decisions made and actions required. Follow up with action-items to ensure accountability.

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