The other day at work I had meetings back-to-back from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with no breaks. At noon I had a lunch meeting to make a decision. It was unusual to have that many meetings. Someone asked me if I could have cancelled any or skipped any. The thing was – each one had a purpose.
When meetings have a purpose they have value. When they are efficiently run, they add value. Here are a few tips I’ve adopted throughout the years to make my meetings purposeful:
1. Start meetings on time, schedule the appropriate amount of time and end on time.
2. Pick a meeting space that works. Do you need to project images? Then make sure you have a dark room or one with shades. My team holds a Monday morning agile meeting to kick off the week and share information. It’s scheduled for 15 minutes and is being held in an unused office at the moment. There are no chairs, which is the point. We stand so we can share quickly.
3. Share information in advance. It frustrates me to come to a meeting, only to be handed a document that we’ll review and discuss and then need to make a decision on it. Provide it to me in advance so I can review and pull my thoughts together. It makes decision making much easier and, often, faster.
4. Determine who is accountable. If action items are required, be sure to note who is responsible for the item and by when. Otherwise, the next meeting will be to determine responsibility, which is not a good use of any one’s time.
Meetings have their place if they are used productively.