Stop Wasting Time in Meetings

By Marsha Petrie Sue, MBA

Have you ever been in a meeting and minutes into it you question why you are even there? Robert Half Management Resources determined that 37 percent of office life is spent in meetings. What a waste. I was speaking to a company last week, and this topic came up – again. Here is some useful information to consider to help your group be more productive and less stressed.

General Meeting Basics:

  • Don’t meet. If you can send a note, email or memo, don’t have the meeting.
  • Set objectives and expected outcomes. This will keep the focus and better manage time spent in meetings.
  • Distribute the agenda beforehand. This will help attendees prepare for the meeting and gather appropriate materials. And stick to the agenda during the meeting.
  • Rotate facilitator of the meeting. This will help each person pay more attention during the gathering.
  • Constantly improve the meeting process. Make sure the attendees really need to be there. Ask the question, “Is it relevant to their job and projects.”

Meeting Ground Rules

Askboring-meeting the group how THEY want to run the meeting. And have them come up with the ground rules – then you have buy in.  Post their ‘agreed upon’ rules in a visible place in the meeting room, write them down and use them for future meetings – adding and deleting ‘rules’ as the meeting dictates.

  1. Have an agenda
  2. Stick to the agenda
  3. Begin and end on time
  4. One conversation at a time
  5. Say it once. Don’t repeat ideas already discussed
  6. Keep comments to 3 sentences or less
  7. Don’t interrupt
  8. Make statements positive
  9. Speak up – no one is a mind reader
  10. Create a parking lot – if it is not on the agenda, put it on the parking lot for the next meeting
  11. What is said here, stays here
  12. Be interested and involved through your body language and expression

Agree that everyone will be the ‘sergeant at arms’ and if someone is not abiding by the rules, anyone can knock three times on the table and pose the question:  “Do we all still agree on the Ground Rules? We have more than one conversation and that is breaking rule #4.”

What will you do differently when it comes to issue of meetings?  Are you willing to change your approach?

Let me know what questions you might have.

Cheers, Marsha

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