If You Must Hold a Meeting…
I held a freakishly limited number of meetings during 20 years in the corporate world. I didn’t have time for them. Neither did the projects I managed. My top meeting tip? Hold as few as possible. If, however, you must hold a meeting:
Managing meetings effectively has much to do with what happens before attendees enter the conference room and after they leave.
When you do hold meetings, strategically select attendees. Don’t invite the world.
Keep to 30 minutes, 45 maximum. This should not be a challenge because truly productive work happens outside of meetings. If you work in a meet-to-death business culture, here’s your opportunity to be a positive deviant.
Send a bulleted statement of intended accomplishment beforehand to focus participants. Be fun, engaging, authentic and brief.
Start exactly on time. Quickly establish a reputation that coming late to your meeting won’t fly. You do this not by calling people out but with your behavior. None of this, “Let’s wait until we’re all here before I dive into the important stuff.” No. Frontload your meeting with the high priority. Those who dribble in 3, 5 and 10 minutes late will quickly learn to show up on time for your meetings because everyone is talking about the meat of the subject, which is sailing over their heads.
Immediately – as in leave the meeting, walk to your office and craft the email – send a follow up documenting agreed upon actions. Not “minutes” (a/k/a regurgitation of conversation). Rather, who is going to do what by when? Often, you will receive “reply all” emails challenging what you’ve documented. Excellent! You now have a public (transparent) opportunity to hit the reset button (patch communication breakdowns) without holding another meeting (#1 tip). This behavior quickly establishes you as a Meeting Management Warrior. On the rare occasions you hold meetings, people will be more inclined to accept vs. duck your Outlook invite.