Meaningful Meetings

Ah, that dreaded four-letter word: MEET.

“Let’s meet.”
“I think we should meet.”
“When can you meet?”

How can something that can be so powerful and meaningful to our work be dreaded by so many? Because many of today’s meetings have become unproductive, overused and are often misused as placeholders – excuses for pushing the work until the next meeting. Yet meeting in person, if set up for success, can yield great ideas, create productive collaboration and power decision-making.

Here are three things you can do today to not only eliminate the dread, but to actually make meetings more productive and meaningful.

1. ####Create an effective agenda.
The agenda to a meeting (and yes, everyone should have one) is not set an hour before the meeting. It is actually set at the end of the last meeting. This way, the agenda only includes topics that are relevant to everyone in the meeting, and the topics actually push the work forward. Each meeting agenda should be sent out at least two days in advance so all invitees are aware of what is expected from them and can come prepared to lead their areas.

2. ####Eliminate distractions.
Clear the room before the meeting begins. Be sure any white board info or flip charts from prior meetings are put out of sight and your meeting can start fresh. Check the temperature of the meeting room. Rooms that are too hot or too cold can distract your attendees. And finally: no phones. Ask everyone to either leave their phones at their desk or to place them upside down. Too often, folks check their phones during a meeting simply because they’re bored. If it’s that urgent, reschedule the meeting. (By the way, snacks are NOT considered a distraction and are often appreciated!)

3. ####Cut it in half. Seriously.
So many meetings are scheduled for an hour when really all that is needed is half that – or even 15 minutes. If you’ve set a clear agenda, people come prepared and you only use meeting time to push the work forward that must happen face-to-face, you can have amazingly productive meetings. Try it and see what you can accomplish in just half the time.

What tips do you have for making face-to-face meetings more productive? Share with us on Twitter via @IntrinzicSays.