by Marsha Petrie Sue, MBA, CSP
The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favor of holding meetings.
—Thomas Sowell, American economist
Reviewing the painful aspects of poorly planned meetings solves nothing. Understanding what makes successful meetings is time well spent.
8. Ask for Q&A before the meeting closes, with action items. You want people to walk away with what they need to do instead of the answer to the last question.
a. Give participants notepads to record their questions.
b. Create a “parking lot” to be used for items that arise that are not on the agenda. These items will be put on another meeting agenda.
9. Set time limits.
a. Limit comments to two sentences.
b. Appoint a timer so no comment runs over a predetermined amount of time. Suggestion: Hold each comment to less than two minutes.
c. Stick to the ground rule to begin and end on time!
10. Consider disrupting the meeting configuration and arrangement.
a. Have a stand-up meeting (they take less time).
b. Change the venue (park, restaurant, different conference room).
c. Vary the facilitator (draw numbers so everyone has to lead a meeting).
d. Do the same with meeting minutes, planning, follow-up and so on.
e. Critical! Ask yourself if the meeting could be an e-mail instead.
11. Meeting minutes.
a. Record the meeting and send a downloadable file.
b. Have a different person document each section of the meeting.
c. Record the meeting on video (if you try this, people will be constrained at first).
12. What to do if you are not in charge of the meeting (this is what
(1) Review the agenda. If there is nothing that is pertinent to your job and projects, question your attendance as the best use of your time.
(2) Be prepared to ask questions. Link them back to objectives, mission, vision or other important company directives. Or better yet, include your knowledge from another project that can be applied to this one.
(3) Volunteer when appropriate and don’t just sit there like a lump. Show your initiative. Don’t wait to get recognized.