Home > Life > Meetings that don’t Suck

Meetings that don’t Suck

If there’s one thing I learned from my involvement with clubs, research etc… it’s that meetings suck, but they don’t have to. Here are my own ideas on how to run more effective meetings that don’t bore people (seriously there should be workshops on how to run effective meetings):

1. Meetings should be aimed at solving problems. If there’s no problem, there’s no reason to call a meeting. Simply going over status updates is a waste of time when one can simply email everyone else the same information. Also it’s not the best time to introduce new people to the team and socialize. I’d rather meet new people at less formal occasions such as lunch or icebreaker events.

2. Come prepared so you can contribute to the discussion. The one calling the meeting must email a well-defined agenda to all other participants well ahead of time so everyone knows what to expect.

3. Discuss ideas, not brainstorm them. The problem is already defined in the agenda so everyone is expected to have given it some thought beforehand (see #2).

4. Invite only the relevant people. If I’m not needed, I don’t want to be there. Running meetings are costly. If ten people attend a one-hour meeting (and it should not be longer than that), that’s ten hours you have taken away collectively that could have been spent doing something else. Therefore if you call a meeting, it better be worth the time.

5. Stay focused and stay on topic. Any and all discussion has to involve everyone present. You can talk about what you did last weekend or the most recent episode of Nikita (btw it’s a great series) after the meeting. This also means no cell phones. I’m not a doctor or firefighter so there’s no one whose life depends on my answering calls/texts within five minutes. If they can’t wait an hour for your response, that’s their problem, not yours.

6. Designate someone to take minutes and share with everyone else after the meeting. It’s pretty obvious since most meetings already do this. This means there’s no reason to hold several meetings due to scheduling conflicts or having to recap the previous meeting at the current one. Everyone who received the minutes already know what happened.

7. End with a to-do list. Meet again to discuss isn’t an acceptable to-do item. That means you didn’t accomplish anything. When you walk out the door, you better know what your new responsibilities are. Anyone failing to follow through their obligations should be dealt with privately, not during a meeting.

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Categories: Life
  1. April 5, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Oh, so many workplaces need this post! I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve been to that were a waste of time, not to mention put me in a trance for the rest of the day. People like to call meetings because it makes them feel important that they have the power to call a meeting.

    • April 7, 2012 at 2:12 pm

      Yes I agree, I’ve been in too many meetings where I question myself why I have to be here.

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