Let’s hear it for meetings!!! Woohoo! Wait, why aren’t you all excited and bubbling with enthusiasm? Come on, it’ll be fun: We’ll catch up, talk about the kids, what happened on Idol last night, what a ditz that Genevieve in accounting is…
The scenario above is the edict for some when it comes to meetings: To them, it’s really a social forum that helps them feel a part of things, which is good, until it derails the initial intent of your meeting and you’re starting 15 minutes later than you wanted. Some even belief that this “face time” some how translates into actual results, as if the term “meeting” equals productivity. Sometimes it does, but often times it doesn’t. It’s not that meetings are unnecessary, because certainly they have a place in the grand scheme of GTD. Just bear in mind the point of the meeting: unless your meeting accomplishes something right then and there, your meeting has actually failed. Don’t believe me? Now be honest:
- How many times have you left a meeting feeling like you could have made better use of that time elsewhere?
- How many times did you suffer through someone droning on about something completely unrelated to what was supposed to be accomplished?
- How many times have you sat in a meeting, contributed little to nothing, then wondered why you had to be there at all?
- And how many times have you sat in a meeting that took way too long, and as a consequence, actually put you behind on a deadline?
When you add up the hours spent in meetings and how few times things were actually accomplished during that meeting, it becomes clear: there is a better way. Actually, there are at least five and I’ll highlight them here:
- Define A Clear Purpose and an Agenda: Be precise about what is to be accomplished and do so ahead of the meeting, that way people are prepared to make it happen when at the meeting. Often I will specify 1-3 things to be accomplished, tops. If more develops after those items are accomplished, we’re ahead of the game.
- Time Management: Set a specific begin and end time and be relentless in keeping true to it. Setting an alarm to go off 10 minutes before wrap-up lets people know you’re serious. Sometimes I’ll even just say “Okay, we have 10 minutes left, we’re doing great.”
- Versatile Locations: Can this meeting be done by phone or web, or both? With remote workers or flex-time staff, you’ll have better attendance and allow people to return to work more quickly if you can bend a bit here. By using a blended version, you might reclaim some of your own time.
- Use Better Tools: There are really amazing tools for helping your meetings become better, more interesting and even more eco-friendly. My recommendations: Google Wave, MindMeister or FreeMind and Dim-Dim.
- Stay on Track: Your attendees will appreciate you keeping things on schedule and on point. No one appreciates a meeting going horribly off-track or worse, being hi-jacked. Focus on the goal and keep your team focused as well.
Now it’s your turn: what kind of tools and tricks do you have for making your meetings more efficient? Share them here so others can learn! Also, if you’re in need of a Google Wave invite, drop me a line. Photo Credit: Hold a Meeting by xadrian