Why Most Meetings Still Suck

Leading people and conducting meetings go hand-in-hand. Yes, you can use email, blogs, Twitter, Basecamp, or any number of additional tools. But at the end of the day, you will still need to schedule and lead meetings.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/TadejZupancic, Image #5896614

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/TadejZupancic

As long as you have to have meetings, you might as well do them well. Before you plan another meeting (and suffer the rest of us to sit through them), make a commitment to do the following:

  1. Define the outcome. I can’t over-emphasize this. If you don’t know what you are trying to accomplish, how will you or others know if you have succeeded? State the outcome at the beginning of the meeting. Here are some real-world examples:
    • “We are here to cast a vision for our international business.”
    • “We want to inspire people to run the half marathon.”
    • “We need to make a decision on when to launch the new Web site.”
    • “We need to review the survey results from the All Employee Meeting and then plan next quarter’s meeting.”
    • “We want to report on the progress of our new royalty system implementation.”
  2. Create a written agenda. People’s time is valuable. A meeting without an agenda is like a ship without a rudder. If you won’t take time to prepare an agenda, why should people take time to attend your meeting.
  3. Focus your attention. Demand that others focus theirs. Stay in the conversation. No laptops. No Blackberries. No side conversations. All of these things make meetings longer and less productive.
  4. Start and stop on time. As the leader you have to set the pace. Start the meeting on time whether everyone is there or not. End the meeting on time, whether you are done or not. If you create these “hard edges” on your meetings, you are more likely to achieve your outcomes.
Question: What other things can you do to improve your meetings, even if you are not the leader?

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