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Thursday
Mar142013

How to stop hating meetings...

If you were to do a survey for one of those TV programs that ask contestants to guess the percentage of people saying a particular thing about a subject and you asked their opinion of meetings, what would you expect to see as the top answer? 

You'd probably expect to see "waste of time" at the top of the list. Or maybe "boring and not relevant". Perhaps "Too much time and nothing achieved". You could probably add a few of your own.

All of which are very negative statements and we can all have some empathy with them.
So how do we turn this loathing of meetings into, if not love, a healthy respect or maybe at least a fondness for the work we can get done in meetings that we can't get done elsewhere.

Meetings don't need to be a waste of time.

The good news is that meetings don't need to be a waste of time. They don't need to take us away from our 'real jobs'. They can be productive and useful.

Much has been written about getting the most out of meetings. It is very simple. All you need to have better meetings is to have some discipline to stick to a few simple rules:

  1. Write down a purpose statement i.e. what you will achieve in the meeting. It doesn't have to be fancy. Just a simple statement making it clear why you are holding the meeting and what you will achieve.
  2. Write an agenda. Just a simple list of things to cover in the meeting. Writing an agenda is easy. Just think about the steps you'll need to take to achieve the purpose of the meeting.
  3. Write good notes in the meeting. The minimum is to make a list of what people agree to do: the action points. Don't write down every word that was said. Nobody will ever read it again. Just write down the things that need to happen afterward.
  4. Follow up afterwards. Just chasing up the actions to make sure people have done what they promised will ensure that the meeting achieved its purpose. If nothing happens as a result of the meeting then you may as well not have held it in the first place. You absolutely must follow up the actions to make sure they get done. 

 

Follow the simple rules to get great meetings.

Just doing these few basic things will significantly improve the quality of your meetings. If you focus on doing basic things and doing them really well then you usually get really good results. Starting with your next meeting check that you are doing these four things properly and you'll be on the way to having great meetings.  

 

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