“Making the Most of Meetings”

At work are you overwhelmed by the number of meeting to which you are invited? Do your meetings seem to go on for too long?  Do you sometimes wonder what the purpose of the meeting was and why often they don’t have the right people in attendance? Worst of all, are you bothered in meetings by people multitasking, looking at their phones seemingly bored or distracted or spending time daydreaming how to ‘finally get out of this meeting.’ So why bother? Would our work days be better off without meetings?

If properly planned and executed, meetings can be great tools for planning, getting agreement, doing work or getting a team on board. There are simple tips that will make meetings work. First and foremost know why you are having a meeting. Patrick Lencioni in his book “Death by Meeting” actually suggests that we have more meetings, but more of the right types of meetings. In a daily standing meeting we can check production levels, hand out assignment. These are literally standing meetings so they don’t go on for a long period of time. A weekly tactical meeting might benefit some work groups where more planning can take place. In addition strategy and higher level business planning should be more formal and given more time.

Great meetings have the right people in attendance at the right time. If someone only has to attend part of the meeting, invite him or her only for that portion so they don’t feel rude when they leave and so they aren’t bored by the parts of the meeting that don’t impact them.

Meetings without agendas shouldn’t take place. Ideally an agenda would be created and distributed ahead of time listing the items that need to be discussed with assigned time limits for each item. Worst case, at the beginning of your meeting create a number of desired outcomes, those things that you want to accomplish in the time allotted. Great meetings assign roles such as a timekeeper to ensure meetings don’t go on forever, a note taker and someone to facilitate the meeting’s flow.

Don’t book meetings back to back. Even kids in school get a short break to get to their next class. Outlook will default meetings to an hour. Consider limiting your meetings to 45 minutes or shorter.


Ground rules or operating norms will make meetings run more smoothly. If you are part of a team that meets regularly you will get more buy in to the rules of the meeting if you create them as a team. Many great meetings include rules such as no cellphones, one person speaks at a time, agree to stick to the agenda and its time limits. Posting these rules where people can see them makes it easy to bring people back in line when they’ve steered off-course.


Don’t forget to evaluate the effectiveness of your meetings from time to time. Not sure if you should have the meeting? Then don’t! Make the most of your meetings to get work done.  


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