Time is the most valuable commodity in life because it is the one thing you cannot buy more of. Too bad this adage doesn’t hold true at all businesses. When you think about your workweek it might be astonishing, frustrating and a tad depressing to calculate how much time you spend in bad meetings. Check the following must know rules of productive meetings.
1. Start on time.
Five people gathered in a conference room at 10 am should not wait five minutes for a straggler. Close the door and start the meeting. Waiting for latecomers only reinforces their behavior. Those who arrive late and inconvenience others are unlikely to do it again.
2. State your goals.
Note what it is you hope to decide or accomplish at the beginning. If there is an agenda, keep it short so that the goal isn’t getting through a long, overly detailed agenda.
3. Keep gatherings small.
Try to limit meetings to five to seven people if at all possible. When the group becomes larger, some attendees become spectators.
4. Keep them short.
Often, the amount of time you schedule to accomplish a task is the amount of time it actually takes. One hour seems to be the default standard, probably based on our Outlook or Gmail calendars. Try scheduling meetings for 30 or 45 minutes. Or even 15 minutes. Saving 15 to 30 minutes here and there adds up.
5. Expect everyone to contribute.
At our company, if you don’t speak up in meetings, you aren’t invited back. Interaction and sharing ideas are critical.
6. Create new rules for PowerPoint.
When a visual presentation is required, we have a few guidelines about those, too. We use more pictures than words. ) We ditch jargon. We end with a summary of decisions and next steps.
7. Take it outside.
When a small group is gathering, I like to take the meeting out of the conference room. Sometimes we will take a walk or find a place outside to sit. To me, a conference room — even a cool-looking one — puts people in “classroom” mode.
Adopting a keep-it-moving approach to meetings usually keeps ideas flowing. When we get stuck or dull, I’m all for changing course, ditching the agenda or, if necessary, ending the meeting altogether.