Thursday, August 30, 2007

Want Better Meetings?

Many of us have sat through lots of meetings. Although we complain “not another meeting…”, meetings are important when it comes to keeping everyone informed. offers six steps to better meetings. Here they are with my two cents:

Don't Meet. Avoid a meeting if the same information could be covered in a memo, e-mail or brief report. On the LetZCommunicate blog, I read an interesting post on "How to Run Effective Meetings" that discuss what meetings are not good for. Thinking about having a meeting soley to whip up enthusiasm? Well go check out this article first.

You want another good reason to not hold unnecessary meetings. According to an eManagementtips article, Vampire Meetings and How To Slay Them, unnecessary meetings are "sucking the funds out of businesses" to a tune of about $17,000/yr. Ouch!

Set Objectives for the Meeting. Before planning the agenda, determine the objective of the meeting. The more concrete your objectives, the more focused your agenda will be.

Provide an Agenda Beforehand. Your agenda needs to include a one-sentence description of the meeting objectives, a list of the topics to be covered and a list stating who will address each topic for how long. Follow the agenda closely during the meeting.

Now before you say you're too busy for this task--think about this. Many of us need time to research and organize our ideas before being put on the spot in meetings. Recently during a meeting, I was asked to give an update on a Gap Analysis project. Not being aware of the expected update, my response was more like a fine tap dance routine. I know -- I should join Toastmasters. I did...

Assign Meeting Preparation. Give all participants something to prepare for the meeting, and that meeting will take on a new significance to each group member.

Assign Action Items. Don't finish any discussion in the meeting without deciding how to act on it.

Examine Your Meeting Process. Don't leave the meeting without assessing what took place and making a plan to improve the next meeting. Coaches breakdown film after games, why not implement this strategy within your group. View this previous post for techniques on giving feedback.

When all is said and done, good meetings just don't happen. Those who hold good meetings really work at it. Here are some additional resources to help you plan better meetings:

  • Make It Happen Blog Tipsheet: Meeting Magic.
    Be sure to checkout the tip sheet.

  • MIT Website. Anatomy of Great Meetings published by 3m. This is one guide you should print and save. It's is loaded with great information.

  • The 10,000 Ways of Quality blog. Meeting Culture.

    This author reflects on the meeting culture at Mozilla and Microsoft. It's a light article but it gives you a peek inside two well-known groups.

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