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How do you make the most of meetings?

Diane Robbins's Profile

We've all been a part of meetings that seem to accomplish nothing more than wasting our time. So what do you do to make sure all your meetings are productive as possible? Do you limit them to only a certain number a week or month and get it as much in at once? Or do you prefer to have smaller meetings that focus on specific things? What have you found works best for you?

Answers

Ernie Humphrey CTP
Title: CEO & COO
Company: Treasury Careers
LinkedIn Profile
(CEO & COO, Treasury Careers) |

I have previously posted a blog on Proformative on this very subject, Meetings Can Lower IQs: Mitigate the Risk, https://www.proformative.com/blogs/ernie-humphrey/2012/02/10/meetings-can-lower-iqs-mitigate-risk.

The highlights:

1. Have an Agenda – an unstructured meeting creates an inherent barrier to productivity.

2. Invite only those who need to attend- make sure that you have a reason for inviting each meeting attendee.

3. Communicate to those you are inviting why they are invited- attendees need to have an incentive to listen and engage in the meeting.

4. Control your meeting- do not let your meeting get too far off topic or let an attendee take over your meeting.

5. Demand attention- if the meeting is an in-person gathering then do not allow any type of smart phones, iPads, etc. If you someone sneaks one in then take it or remove them from the meeting. If it is a remote meeting and you are sharing a presentation see if you can use a tool that will monitor if they are viewing your screen (applications such as GoToMeeting offer this functionality.)

6. Create specific action items that result from the meeting. This clearly communicates the output from the meeting and why you called the meeting.

7. Manage your meeting reputation- following the best practices above your colleagues will know that when you call a meeting you mean business and it will be a productive use of their time. They may even enjoy your meeting and they will make your meetings more productive. You should also elicit feedback from your meetings to show that you care about the attendees’ time and want to improve as a meeting facilitator.

Anonymous
(CFO) |

I would only add: Allow people to not attend a meeting if they see nothing on the agenda that they feel is pertinent to their responsibilities.

I worked at a company back in the 1980s, that used a system like this. It was actually marketed nationwide and we had to attend learning sessions on it. However, for the life of me, I can't remember the name. I came to love and respect it for what it did when everyone agreed to the terms of meetings. Especially since I left that company and went on to others who had no such system in place.

Anonymous
(CFO) |

I just rememebered - the name of that meeting system was the "DEKS" or "DEX" or some similar acronym.

It was great when corporate directed us all to use it. It limited meetings to only those necessary, brought accountability to those who called them and kept the meetings short and focused. Overall, it helped to avoid wasting employee time.

Sadly, I work in government now and meetings are ubiquitous. Particularly interagency meetings. Sometimes, when I'm board, I do the math in my head about how much a completely non productive meeting is costing the taxpayers by counting the number of heads in the room and multiplying by an average cost of $150/hour per employee. (Most meetings are staffed by technical or C level employees!)

Then, I always say to myself, "If the taxpayers only knew". I guarantee as I right this, that somewhere within 25 miles of my location at a water district office or city hall, such a meeting is going on. And, it will run at least one and a half hours.

Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

Years back, as a divisional finance director, I encountered this in our weekly finance meetings with other divisional finance directors and the CFO. After 2-3 such low value sessions, I waited afterwards and spoke one on one with the CFO.

I explained that I got little out of the meanderings that took place and I suggested a two part meeting:
1. a focused agenda on common issues
2. optional discussions on other matters (e.g. division specific matters).

He went along with it and so at the next meeting, I then attended for 1 and excused myself politely for 2 when the "meanderers" started up.

In other words, lobby for some change and get others to support it before you try it out.

Renee Jaenicke
Title: Director of Internal Audit
Company: Renown Health
(Director of Internal Audit, Renown Health) |

Instead of just a meeting agenda, we type in the background for the topics to be discussed (as if they were minutes) and ask participants to read them before the meeting and be prepared to discuss. This saves a lot of time. The people who don't read them ahead of time are clearly at a (sometimes embarrassing) disadvantage at the meeting.

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