The Innovator’s Field Guide: Meeting in Style

“People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.” -Thomas Sowell

Meetings are an essential component of quality communications in any business. The impact of face-to-face communications can be drastically reduced if the tool isn’t used judiciously. No one wants to attend a meeting that could have been handled through another method of communication, or have a topic addressed in an email that required the dynamics of group discussion. Here are some tips for increasing both the productivity and efficacy of face time:

  • Rumor has it that British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher held status update meetings where everyone stood. Her theory was that when reporting to her each participant would refrain from pontificating needlessly if they were not sitting in comfy chairs.
  • Immediately kill any discussions in interdepartmental meetings that do not apply to the entire group.
  • Send a meeting agenda (even an informal one) the day before the meeting is scheduled to occur. This allows team members the chance to address specific concerns before the meeting, and it keeps a tight rein on the time management of the meeting.
  • Limit meeting topics to areas that require personal emphasis or teach a new skill/procedure, or where a group discussion would create synergistic thoughts.
  • Unless personal electronic devices are salient to the meeting, have a “power down” policy.
  • Never have deli trays or sweet goods available during the meeting. It’s a nice thought, but constant grazing along the treat line is disruptive and prolongs pertinent progress.
  • Carefully consider the attendees. Did you invite only those who would benefit from the presented topics?
  • Send out a follow-up email detailing points that were discussed and resolutions made no more than a day after the meeting.
  • As for a tactic to quell the person who always asks irrelevant questions…that’s your call. Just keep in mind that every minute your team is away at a meeting, their productivity goes down. Design your meetings to get the maximum ROI on their investment of time.

Meeting In Style Accelerators

  • On a scale of one to ten, how effective would you say your meeting management is?
  • What are the top three problems with most of your meetings or meeting management?
  • What steps can you take now to increase the effectiveness of your meetings?