Recently I spent a few minutes with Anita Bruzzese, talking about how to make meetings better. I’d encourage you to check out Anita’s article as I’m not the only one who offered insights into how to make meetings better.
Of course, Anita didn’t use all of my suggestions (and I didn’t expect her to) so her editing is your gain :)
I spend over 25% of my work life in my meetings, and I’ve been to more than my share of good (and bad) meetings. There are some key things you can do and make YOUR meetings more meaningful.
Always have a written agenda and distribute it at least a day before the meetings. This gives all attendees the opportunity to prepare ahead of time, do any research, and ask any clarifying questions, BEFORE coming to the meeting.
Mark on the agenda who is mission critical, and who is optional, for the meeting, and reschedule if the mission critical attendees can’t attend a meeting (or if they don’t confirm their attendance 2 hours before the meeting. No meeting should happen without key decision makers present, or all you do is talk and don’t really DO anything. We use an asterisk (*) by key meeting attendees, and this works well.
Start on time/end on time – This is a pet peeve of mine. So many people show up late, or not at all, that we talk about “professional courtesy” like you’d give a college professor, 5 minutes late is okay for most folks, 10 minutes for executives. NOT OK! If you want to respect the folks that are on time for the meeting, start the meeting on time…and end the meeting on time so folks can make it to their next meeting on time. Even better: End 5 minutes early so folks can get to their next meeting on time.
Stick to the agenda – If it’s on the agenda, discuss it, and discuss it until a decision is made. If it’s not on the agenda, table it for the next meeting. Unprepared comments in a meeting, while they may seem useful, are often made without proper research or consultation of key decision makers.
Distribute meeting minutes (with action items) promptly – Before folks forget what was discussed, distribute the meeting minutes for all to review. Include non-attendees and others that need to be in the loop. Distribute within 1 day for max effectiveness.
What are YOUR best suggestions to make meetings better?