Keeping Meetings on Track When In Charge by Meggin McIntosh, PhD

In General
Aug 26th, 2013

Train tracks“Executives waste 7.8 hours each week in meetings.” Office Pro Nov/Dec 2000.  Note: You may consider this to be an underestimate…. This week’s tips will be the first of a series that offer ideas for making your “meeting” life more productive. This week’s ideas are specifically for keeping meetings on track (vs. meandering around through various topics, times, etc.) when YOU are in charge of the meeting.

  1. Do not provide food for participants because of the potential for distraction and off-task discussion and focus.
  2. To keep brief meetings brief, stand up for the meeting.
  3. For longer meetings, make sure that the meeting room is set up and ready for the meeting before people arrive.
  4. Send out the agenda in advance and ask (and expect) that participants bring the agenda you have sent out.
  5. Start and end the meeting at the times you have advertised (i.e., promised) on the agenda.
  6. The advance agenda needs to include start and stop times for each item, the name of the person(s) responsible for each item, and enough information about the item that it directs participants’ thinking prior to the meeting.
  7. Post the agenda on chart paper, a white board, via PowerPoint, or a transparency so that everyone can keep the agenda in view at all times and you can easily refer to it.
  8. Put the most important items first on the agenda.
  9. Create a way (e.g., a “parking lot”) to capture ideas that are tangential to the agenda (i.e., that would take the group down a different path) but that you don’t want to lose.
  10. When a participant tries to derail the meeting or extend the time originally allotted for an item, redirect everyone’s attention to the agenda that is posted.

Remember, you are in charge of the meeting, and that means designing it to be productive–and then being proactive to keep it that way.

bettermeetingsIf you attend &/or plan meetings (and I know you do), then you need the Get a Plan! Guide® to Waayy Better Meetings. As a society, we cannot afford to be losing productivity to meetings that are poorly designed, unnecessary, or to whom the wrong people have been invited.