How to Maximize Meetings
Judging by readers’ reactions to my column “How to Craft Meetings People Love (Really),” it’s clear that meetings are a major pain point in many organizations. I received notes from readers bemoaning “soul-sucking” meetings that involve lots of activity and little productivity.
But readers also shared some of their own ideas on how to make meetings better. I thank them for sharing their wisdom.
Mentioned most often in reader responses was the need to have a well-crated agenda on paper (or screen), and I cannot agree more. A game plan helps participants understand what will be discussed, how to prepare, how much time will be allocated to each item, and who else is expected to attend.
Further, composing an agenda is a useful exercise to help the meeting leader structure and frame the gathering. And, as one reader noted, you can get the most out of an agenda by sharing it in advance of the meeting, rather than introducing it after everyone is at the table. Sufficient time to consider the agenda is important for others to be able to be ready to add value once the meeting is under way.
Also helpful is putting the difficult issues high on the agenda. This suggestion, which I first picked up from Patrick Lencioni’s best-seller, Death by Meeting, assures that time and attention are directed at the items that most deserve them. Few things are more frustrating for meeting-goers than to have the big issue given short-shrift at the close of a meeting after valuable time has been frittered away on more routine matters. If you want the tough stuff resolved, get it on the table early.
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