- Always publish an agenda prior to the meeting.
- Start on time, close on time.
- Encourage lively, but civil debate, and diversity of thought.
- Keep discussions focused, contain blabber mouths, draw out wallflowers.
- Leave the meeting with action steps for each agenda item.
I know personally, always having twelve balls in the air, I would come screaming into a meeting, half prepared. It takes 5 minutes for me to remember why we are there, and then get up to speed. As time is running out, we all start forcing issues and decisions.
These five tips are great, and I offer a couple more suggestions.
- Clock. Either have a timer, a clock on the wall for all to see, or designate a person as time keeper. Let everyone know how much time is left regularly.
- Checkpoints. Stop every ten minutes or so and do a gut check with everyone present to make sure the meeting is making progress. If not, ask for suggestions and reset.
- Covey It. As Stephen Covey would stress, “Seek first to understand. Then be understood.” Try to understand everyone’s viewpoint, before you tell them why that won’t work. Rather, keep an open mind and try to see how it could work.
- Summarize. Nearing the end of the meeting time, the group should decide if the goal or purpose was accomplished. Summarize the decisions or result, and assign responsibilities or outcomes.
Above all else, be on time – both at the start and the end. Meetings are expensive. Use the resources of your organization wisely!