How To Stop “Endless” Meetings
Is this meeting ever going to end?
All of us have asked ourselves this question at one time or another as we sat through another seemingly endless, unproductive meeting. As we all know, many meetings take too long and don’t accomplish as much as they should. The following are the steps that we can take to arrange and/or lead productive meetings:
- Reduce the time required to schedule meetings with a standing day and time or by using a web based calendar.
Trying to schedule a meeting via phone and/or email can be like herding cats.
- Distribute the meeting objectives, agenda and the scheduled start and end times prior to the meeting.
Don’t schedule a meeting for more than one hour unless absolutely necessary.
- Postpone the meeting if all required personnel cannot attend.
It is much better to postpone than to hold the meeting and not be able to achieve the objectives because a key person did not attend.
- Ensure that the meeting room is free of outside noise and visual distractions.
- If all the attendees don’t know each other make brief introductions.
- Review the meeting objectives and the stop time at the beginning of the meeting.
- Stay on the agenda during the meeting, avoid digressions and keep the discussion pertinent to the objectives.
Don’t allow any one to dominate the meeting.
- Use of personal electronic devices.
If any attendees are using their laptops or mobile devices during the meeting, ask them to focus on the meeting in a professional manner.
- Appoint a Meeting Timekeeper
The Timekeeper keeps the attendees informed of the time remaining and will call an end to the meeting at the designated time.
- Appoint a Meeting Secretary.
The Secretary will take the minutes and publish them on a timely basis. The minutes should include action items and the names of those responsible for completing them. This will eliminate post-meeting discussions about what was decided, help to ensure that action items are completed and that decisions are implemented.
- Meeting Summary.
Prior to the conclusion of the meeting summarize the decisions and review the action items and the people responsible.
A senior attendee should follow up to ensure that decisions are implemented and action items are completed.
- Remove the chairs!
Consider requesting that attendees stand throughout the entire meeting. This will make the meeting shorter and more productive. Try it, it works!
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