Have you have read Patrick Lencioni's book, Death by Meeting? If not, you should; it's a great read. And, if you are like me, meetings can take up all your time. How many meetings have you walked out of frustrated, tired or just plain upset about everything? You probably told yourself, "I am never going to a meeting like that again." To keep your own meetings on track, here are tips on how to keep a meeting moving toward productivity.
Be clear on the purpose of your meeting. Nothing is more frustrating than not knowing where things are going. State your purpose from the get-go.
Size up your meeting. By that I mean, decide beforehand how much time it needs. One of my favorite meetings is what I call a stand-up meeting. When I am really busy and someone walks in the office to talk to me I immediately stand up before I decide how important the topic is. If I remain seated they too will get comfortable and be seated and then a five-minute meeting turns into a 30-minute meeting. But if I remain standing I have options. I can walk toward them and without saying anything they know I don't have the time. It's not rude; it's just instinct.
If you find someone who disengages from the discussion, ask them straight out what they think. Don't let them disengage; get their input.
Keep an open atmosphere. It's ok to disagree. I encourage it. The more honesty is allowed to roam in a conversation, the more productive it will be. Nothing should be off-limits.
Keep track of your time. Don't waste others' time. Their time is just as important as yours.
Next steps. Before dismissing, be clear about action items, responsibilities and due dates. Be clear about the objectives. Say things like, "You are responsible for this and I am responsible for that." Always seek to understand and to be understood.