How often do we treat meetings as a necessary evil, as something taking us away from the important day-to-day work and tying us up in chit-chat and time-wasting?
This is the case if meetings are run badly. If they are run well, then their usefulness increases exponentially, and participants are keen to attend and contribute.
First, you must have an agenda. A meeting without an agenda is a ship without a rudder. Agenda-less meetings can easily be high-jacked and last for hours as participants throw in ever more obscure and irrelevant concerns. The organiser must set the agenda with clear bullet points detailing what is to be discussed.
Secondly, a meeting must have a time limit. Usually, a meeting that lasts longer than an hour is not a productive meeting. The meeting should deal only with focused topics, not try to solve the world’s problems.
The participants in a meeting should only be those with a stake in the meetings outcomes and with something relevant to contribute.
As a participant, you should come to the meeting well prepared. A meeting is often a good chance to show your colleagues how well you can perform, especially if you are the meeting organiser. Make sure you read the agenda thoroughly and anticipate the issues it raises. If you have something to say, write it out beforehand so you are clear about the points you want to cover.
A meeting should always have a chairperson to control and drive the agenda. One person only should speak at any one time, and side conversations should never be tolerated. You will come across as rude if you talk continuously through a meeting.
If you follow some of these basic rules, you will find your meetings will make a much more telling contribution to the life of your company or organisation.