Some of the most miserable moments of my life were in meetings. Many of us feel like we spend our lives going from one unproductive meeting to another. It’s time to rise up and fight back against miserable meetings.
Follow these 7 principles to plan and lead meetings that work:
1. Know the clear purpose of the meeting.
A meeting without a clear and stated purpose is a waste of everyone’s time. If there is no clear purpose to the meeting than cancel it and brighten up everyone’s day. Every meeting needs to have a clear purpose with clear objectives.
2. Send out a written agenda in advance with specific goals for the meeting.
Sending out an agenda in advance, allows every participant in a meeting to walk into the meeting prepared. The agenda does not have to be full of detail, but simply needs to list what you will cover in the meeting. This simple step will ensure that the meeting has a clear purpose and goals and will also keep the meeting from being hijacked by an endless supply of new agenda items introduced in the moment.
3. Set clear start and ending times for the meeting.
We all have things to do. Let’s not start meetings 20 minutes late and allow them to go an hour past their scheduled time. I suggest requiring every meeting participant to be present and ready to go 5 minutes before the scheduled start time. During the meeting, someone needs to keep the meeting moving along and on track according to the scheduled purpose and agenda. Then end the meeting on time. You can always meet again next week.
4. Make sure someone takes notes in the meeting.
You don’t need five pages of notes. What you do need is someone to capture key decisions made, dates things are due, and who is assigned action steps coming out of the meeting.
5. Don’t allow computer or cell phone use during the meeting.
lt always amazes me how many people have a computer open and an email application within sight during a meeting. Another constant distraction is 7 I-Phones laying on the conference table with texts coming in repeatedly. These distractions ensure that not everyone will be a present participant and will undermine unity in the meeting. No hiding behind a computer screen during a meeting. Put the technology away, be focused, and finish the meeting. Then you can get back to Words with Friends.
6. Leave the meeting with clear action items.
When is the next meeting? Who will do what before the next meeting? Have action steps been clearly captured and written down? Are due dates clear? See point 4.
7. Have each person state out loud what they are responsible for at the end of the meeting.
Just to make sure that everything is clear, have each person articulate what they will do prior to the next meeting.
It’s time to put an end to miserable meetings! What other best practices would you like to share? Feel free to comment?