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Wednesday
Mar262014

7 Steps On How to Hold Useful Meetings (and Get Stuff Done!)

How many times have you left a meeting and thought “wow, what a waste of time THAT was.”?  People do NOT like to attend meetings because they take a lot of time and accomplish very little, and with so much other stuff they need to do, people don’t want their time wasted.  Meetings can be very helpful to team members as long as they are run correctly.  Change up your meetings and make them more productive by following these 7 steps:

ONE - Email agenda to attendees before meeting.  Be specific about what you want each person to discuss.  This way they are (hopefully) prepared.

TWO - Stick to the important points and not go into extraneous detail – this is a difficult one for process-oriented people.   They like to describe all they steps they went through and how long it took them to arrive to the final outcome.  Y’know, what you really want to hear.  To alleviate this, but to show them the appreciation they so desire, explain at the beginning of each meeting you would like bullet points and final results, but that you know they worked hard to get to this point and you appreciate it.  If they feel it’s important to explain further, they can make a separate meeting with you.  This will make them re-consider how important it is, and they may not make that appointment.

THREE - Assign times to each person and assign someone in the meeting to watch the clock so the allotted time isn’t exceeded.  Give each person a 1 minute warning their time is about to expire.  Or, sometimes even better, have a countdown clock that everyone can see so the person speaking has no doubt how much time they have left.

FOUR - Stick to the agenda.  If someone begins to deviate from the set agenda, ask if it pertains to what they need to talk about, and if not, table it for the next meeting, or a private conversation. .

FIVE - Run the meeting without any chairs.  This will be really weird, at first.  Most office people sit on their butts from 5-7 hours a day.  They’re used to sitting down.  In order to write notes, hold your meeting somewhere you can have cocktail tables that are high enough to comfortably write on while standing.  In this way, your team will get a little blood flowing through their legs and want to move the meeting along.  It also helps to keep people more alert because they’re not as relaxed as they are when sitting (no accidental dozing off!).

SIX - Have action items.  I’ve never liked attending meetings, especially long ones when so many things are discussed, then I leave the meeting without a sense of what I’m supposed to do.  What was the point of the meeting?  After each person in the meeting speaks, list the actionable items each person needs to accomplish.  Have someone in the meeting write these down, then review them at the end of the meeting so it’s clear who needs to do what.
 
SEVEN - Follow up on action items.  Please. One of the things I hated the most about corporate meetings I’ve attended was having people assigned tasks, then never asked about them.  This makes people feel like they are wasting their time performing them if their manager completely forgets to follow-up on it.  Or worse, the manager shrugs it off when told the task was finished, as if it wasn’t important.  Assigning tasks does no good unless the team is held accountable, so follow-up on each action item, whether privately or at the next meeting.

Running your meetings in a vastly different way than how you have been running them will be troubling to your team at first because it’s not what they’re used to.  People are uncomfortable with any change.   I’m not going to lie – the first 2 or 3 meetings may not be easy.  But be diligent and consistent about running the meetings this way and your team will come around, because they’re no longer wasting time in a useless meeting.  Once your team understands this is the way it is, they’ll be better prepared and will even appreciate more will get done in a lot less time.

 

Reader Comments (2)

These are excellent tips for great meetings. Every meeting that I have liked has followed most of these. Well, never tried not sitting down, but that's an interesting idea!

March 26, 2014 at 1:42PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe P.

This is a great post

March 28, 2014 at 4:52PM | Unregistered Commentervishal

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