Meeting Makeover

Written by on June 13, 2012 in Career - No comments | Print this page

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Meeting Makeover

Pick a time limit and stick to it.

I once worked at a school that had weekly meetings. A small group of teachers would meet with a counselor to discuss students’ progress. In theory, it sounded like a good idea. In practice, it was useless. Often, the other teachers in my group didn’t show up on time. Since I was only one teacher, I only needed about five minutes with the counselor. So, the two of us would spend about 15 minutes just sitting there, waiting for the others. Then, when the teachers finally showed up, there were pleasantries and excuses to get out of the way. As a result, the meetings ended up being about 30 minutes too long. Needless to say, I was thrilled when the meetings became twice a month instead of weekly.

Everyone has to go to meetings at work. Unfortunately, few people actually enjoy them. Many people find them boring and useless. The reason for this is that many meetings are boring and useless. They are too long, uninformative, and unproductive. There are, however, ways to change this.

Time

Most meetings are just way too long. They just seem to go on and on and on. So, the meeting’s length of time should be strictly monitored. Decide on a time limit and enforce it. One way to do this is to begin promptly. Do not wait for late comers. Just get going immediately. Trust that your employees are bright enough to catch up if they miss five minutes due to a phone call.

Agenda

Don’t expect to fix everything in one meeting. It’s unproductive and time consuming to do so. Decide on an agenda and then send it out to the participants beforehand. This allows everyone to gather their thoughts prior to the meeting so that the agenda can be strictly followed. Tangents and off topic discussions can easily derail a meeting and cause it to run over. Having a set agenda and giving it to everyone before the meeting will help to keep things on track.

Ideas

One way to keep meetings productive and keep the ideas flowing is to ask for ideas to be submitted beforehand. Many people, particularly introverts and creative people, do their best thinking alone. So, ask for submissions before the meeting so that everyone has a chance to think in their own way. Then, at the meeting, lay the ideas out. Now, the extroverts can brainstorm as a group and get their ideas out. This approach allows everyone to feel comfortable and have a chance to use their strengths.

This approach also helps the best ideas to come out. Meetings and brainstorming sessions tend to be dominated by the loudest, most assertive person. This type of person is great at getting their point across and getting their ideas accepted but, they are not necessarily the smartest or the most creative. Others who are quieter and more laidback may have equally good or even better ideas but, because their delivery is not as strong, they tend to be overlooked.

Meetings are a necessary evil. They are a way to convey information quickly and get feedback immediately. However, with a few changes, they can become a more enjoyable and more productive part of the workplace.

How would you like to see meetings changed?

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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About the Author

Jen Small

Jen is a writer who is originally from South Florida. A former recruiter for a Fortune 500 company, she has also worked in several different industries - real estate, insurance, construction, and education. Jen has now taken this experience to help others as a resume writer and designer. She currently lives and works in South Korea. View all posts with career advice.