- block time in your agenda for the “real work”, not only are you planning the work, you’re blocking off time for anyone else to schedule a meeting (people will find other ways to get the info they need and solve their problems)
- schedule short meetings – if people think the meeting can last an hour it will
- keep meetings small, inevitably everyone will want to speak, so more people will inevitably take longer.
- have a purpose and an agenda
- start on time – with whoever is there on time
- announce the meeting’s purpose it at the beginning of the meeting, remind people of it
- stick to time
- ‘park’ items that don’t relate to the agenda – that’s not what you’re here for.
- write up the meeting – decisions taken and actions committed to, and send the notes out directly after the meeting
It’s not rocket science – I got most of these from Manager Tools – the world’s most useful site for new managers.
They also recommend working through ground rules at the beginning of meetings, I did this with my team – they generated a similar list (I said it wasn’t rocket science!). However there are a couple of interesting additions, coffee is a requirement and our team meetings should be held outside the office occasionally. It works well – and the meetings are usually half an hour.
This week Seth Godin weighed in with his meeting rules, lots of the same concepts, but a couple of things struck me.
He also questions why meetings are always set at a default one hour length – and suggests scheduling meetings in increments of five minutes. I like this, high potential for confusion if you’ve used default one hour meetings for a long time.
He suggests removing the chairs, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard of this, I can’t find a reference now but I think Queen Elizabeth II keeps her advisors standing (the origin of a “standing committee” perhaps).
I like his last suggestion; “If you’re not adding value to a meeting, leave.” I’ve been tempted many times, next time I’ve got a meeting scheduled where my value may be limited I’ll make sure I’m sitting next to the door.