Making Meetings Matter

Making Meetings Matter

Do you hate going to meetings—sales, staff, or planning meetings? I usually dread it. Time is precious to me. I work long days, and especially when I travel, it is important that my time is managed well. I hate it when I show up to a meeting and it starts late, runs on forever, I see people falling asleep (OK, I have done this once or twice), or on their mobile devices the whole time.

I believe that, if you call a meeting, you need to invite only those people it is applicable to. Don’t force anyone to come for whom it will not be productive. I also think that people should not be on their phones or laptops (unless they are note taking). Pay attention and contribute—or get the heck out!

Recently, I queried several industry collogues about how they run meetings, what is effective for them, and what is not. It’s funny. They all said the same things!

Here are the Seven Steps to Successful Meetings.

1. Only invite the people who really need to be there. If people can spend their time more productively for their core role in the business by not being at the meeting, then they should not be there.

2. Agenda in advance! It is critical that the agenda be circulated in advance. The agenda should go out before (or with) the invitations. Then people can look at the topics and determine if it is necessary for them to attend. It also allows them to prepare for the meeting and come with thoughts and opinions versus wasting time trying to read and respond to the agenda at the meeting itself. The agenda should also indicate how long you will spend on each topic.

3. Start on time. Everyone said the same thing. Whether or not all the attendees are there, start on time. It is a problem if people know they can come late and not miss anything because it never starts on time, or they know you will repeat what they missed. Start on time and don’t backtrack for late comers.

4. Short is best. If you can keep the meeting to under 30 minutes, that is great. Once it drags on longer, you lose people’s attention. Less people (only the critical ones attending) should help shorten the meeting.

5. Engage everyone in the room. Make sure that everyone has a chance to speak and voice their thoughts and opinions. If someone has not spoken up, ask them for their feedback—make sure they speak. One person mentioned that you should always hear from the most junior people in the room first. This saves time, because the junior or less vocal folks get out their points. The more vibrant and dominant talkers drone on!

6. No phones or mobile devices. Simple and straightforward. They are off when they come to the meeting. If there is a note taker on a laptop, that is fine. And if something needs to be Googled, they can do it. Other than that, 100% attention should be paid to the topics of the meeting!

7. End early. As the meeting organizer, plan to end early. If it is a scheduled 30-minute meeting, end after 25 minutes. This is critical. Then people know when they come to your meetings, they actually don’t end on time, but early! Guess what? They will come back next time, even if they have back-to-back meetings because they know yours are effective, efficient, and on-time!

Let me know if you have any other tips or disagree with any of the suggested tips!

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  1. Years ago when I worked at a college, meetings were a regular common annoyance. During a coffee break discussion one of the faculty suggested the cost of everyone’s time should be charged against the budget of the person who called the meeting.
    Never happened but would shorten many meetings and eliminate others

    • Barry,
      Great to hear from you… and a day early! Sorry for the early delivery… what is a day amongst friends!! Anyway this made me laugh… I think you are right. It truly would have shortened meetings! Talk soon. Brent


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