Meeting Tips: Let’s (Not) Meet

Too many meetings. I sometimes feel that I don’t get to do any real work done because I’m in meetings all day. My survival tips;

  1. block time in your agenda for the “real work”, not only are you planning the work, you’re blocking off time for anyone else to schedule a meeting (people will find other ways to get the info they need and solve their problems)
  2. schedule short meetings – if people think the meeting can last an hour it will
  3. keep meetings small, inevitably everyone will want to speak, so more people will inevitably take longer.
  4. have a purpose and an agenda
  5. start on time – with whoever is there on time
  6. announce the meeting’s purpose it at the beginning of the meeting, remind people of it
  7. stick to time
  8. ‘park’ items that don’t relate to the agenda – that’s not what you’re here for.
  9. write up the meeting – decisions taken and actions committed to, and send the notes out directly after the meeting

It’s not rocket science – I got most of these from Manager Tools – the world’s most useful site for new managers.

set an agenda, with times

They also recommend working through ground rules at the beginning of meetings, I did this with my team – they generated a similar list (I said it wasn’t rocket science!). However there are a couple of interesting additions, coffee is a requirement and our team meetings should be held outside the office occasionally. It works well – and the meetings are usually half an hour.

This week Seth Godin weighed in with his meeting rules, lots of the same concepts, but a  couple of things struck me.

He also questions why meetings are always set at a default one hour length – and suggests scheduling meetings in increments of five minutes. I like this, high potential for confusion if you’ve used default one hour meetings for a long time.

He suggests removing the chairs, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard of this, I can’t find a reference now but I think Queen Elizabeth II keeps her advisors standing (the origin of a “standing committee” perhaps).

I like his last suggestion; “If you’re not adding value to a meeting, leave.” I’ve been tempted many times, next time I’ve got a meeting scheduled where my value may be limited I’ll make sure I’m sitting next to the door.

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