Meetings need to be short and to the point

November 15, 2010

We’ve all been there — the office meeting that drags on… and on… and on.

I’ve sat through my share of boring meetings during my time in the corporate world. We had one vice-president who droned on so long, the only thing that kept us awake was keeping a tally of how many names he dropped during his ramblings. I’ve often left a meeting frustrated, and behind schedule, thinking, “Did that even solve anything?” (It hadn’t.)

Most meetings are inefficient, ineffective and often a complete waste of time, says Mark Schnurman of the Star-Ledger. A good meeting gets out the necessary information, puts everyone on the same page, and allows workers to have discussions to reach conclusions — if done correctly. He offers a few tips:

• Set a time frame, including an end time. You’ll lose your audience after an hour, and definitely after an hour and a half. Respect your co-workers’ time.

• No smart phones!

• Make sure you invite the right people. Don’t require people to be there who don’t need to be, and if someone is vital to a project or discussion, make sure they attend.

• Distribute an agenda. There are no surprises this way. And if the meeting will discuss specific information, make sure attendees have that info ahead of time.

• Allow everyone the chance to speak. This limits a few people dominating the meeting, and others getting frustrated.

• End with a plan. What do we do next? What do we need to watch out for in the future? And follow-up with that plan in an e-mail to attendees.

We can’t get out of the office meeting completely, but we don’t have to suffer through them, either. Tell us — do you use any of these techniques effectively? Or, what was your worst office meeting experience?

Photo courtesy of rocket ship via Flickr
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