Did you ever come out from the meeting and said to yourself: “What a @#$%!& waste of time!”? I had too many of those during my career, so I want to share some tips on how to make sure meetings you organize are focused, effective and achieve its objective.
Tip # 1: Don’t have a meeting. Meetings can be one of the biggest time and money drains for you and your organization. Consider this conservative estimate: A meeting with 5 people all making $50 per hour costs a business $250 per hour. Multiply this by number of meetings you have during the week or month and you get the picture.
Tip # 2: Have an agenda. If you are a meeting organizer and you come to the meeting and don’t have an agenda printed or shared at least verbally with attendees, then it is not a meeting, it is a date. At the very least, agenda should have info on meeting location, date, time. Most importantly it should have one or more bullets on meeting objective/questions that need to be answered or addressed during the meeting. If you do not share this upfront with attendees – consider meeting a waste of time.
Tip # 3: Stick to an agenda. Of course, just bringing an agenda, won’t cut it, you have to follow it. People tend to deviate from agenda quite a lot. If you see the discussion deviating from original topic, kindly remind people to go back to original reason for the meeting. Ask to discuss the “other” topics offline or in separate meeting (not at your meeting’s expense).
Tip # 4: Assign action items. When you reached the end of the meeting, make sure to recap it by what was agreed on at the meeting. If there was no decision made, make sure there are action items assigned accordingly. Meeting minutes are optional, I did write blog post about them a while back.
Tip # 5: Stop on time. OK, I have to get it off my chest. If you scheduled a meeting 3-4 PM and it is 4:01 PM and we are still sitting in 3-4 meeting – this is rude!!! Why? Because I might have 4-5 PM and now I am going to be late to that. One other piece of advice: never schedule meetings more than 1 hour in duration. Of course, there are always going to be exceptions, but as a rule of thumb, you should not expect people to stay focused for 2-3 hours. It is just human nature.
Bonus Tip: If you want to increase attendance at your meetings, bring food. Seriously, you know how they say that “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”? Same applies to meetings. People love free food and I noticed that if you say that bagels or pizza will be provided, somehow everyone attends. Especially if you host meetings during lunch time. In such cases, provision of lunch is a must!
These are my tips on meeting etiquette, do you have any additional advice or comments you want to share?