Meet with Success

Published Tuesday, November 09, 2010 2:15 PM

Time in meetings isn't always time well spent. Studies show that up to 50 percent of meeting time is wasted: listening to ineffective presentations, daydreaming and even dozing. Yes, people do sleep during meetings. Want to make sure no one gets caught napping in your meetings? We've assembled some useful tips for running productive, engaging meetings.

Meeting Guidelines

To begin, let's deal the myth that office workers universally abhor meetings. In Why We Secretly Love Meetings Harvard Business Review blogger and management consultant Ron Ashkenas asserts that most managers actually like meetings. Ashkenas says meetings happen again and again for three reasons:

  • Meetings encourage social interaction. Most people don't enjoy working alone; they want contact and relationships with other people and meetings make them feel part of a community.
  • Meetings keep everyone in the loop. As companies become more matrixed and interdependent, meetings serve as a hub that connects an organization's various spokes, enabling people to know what's going on in other parts of the organization.
  • Meetings represent status. Meetings offer people a seat at the decision-making table and membership on different committees signals that one is part of the leadership team. Being asked to present or answer questions at a meeting can provide visibility and is status-enhancing.

Okay, so people may like meetings more often they admit but most folks would also agree they do not like having their time wasted. So take time to create and run productive meetings.

Effective meetings boil down to three criteria:

  • Effective meetings achieve a defined objective. Productivity expert David Allen recommends starting every meeting with a "statement of wild success." This clear definition of the best possible outcome for the meeting puts everyone on the same page, working towards the same desired outcome.
  • Effective meetings take up a minimum amount of time. Set an agenda and stick to it. Set a start and end time and allocate a specific time for each agenda item. Don't allow any one person to dominate the group.
  • Effective meetings leave participants feeling that a sensible process has been followed. Before the meeting ends, summarize what was achieved and assign participants action items. At the meetings close, debrief participants separately for feedback. What went well? What didn't work? What could be improved upon? This will help you run meetings more effectively in the future.


Finally, for more ideas, read's comprehensive How to Run an Effective Meeting. 

Do you think meetings are an effective use of your time? What tips do you have for running productive, results-oriented meetings? Share your thoughts here and at the Beyond Folders Facebook page.

by Candie Harris



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