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January 19, 2011 / marden928

I boycott Boycott a Meeting Day

Today is the Boycott a Meeting Day.  I shall share with you the direct copy from the site:

“Every minute you avoid spending in a meeting is a minute you can get real work done instead.”

I get the point, we’ve all been in long meetings that go on and on and nothing gets done.  Someone’s ego is flashed around, another person may use it as some sort of therapy session and then a huge To Do list appears.

In another scenario, there are groups that are really anti-meeting and refuse to meet.  So instead, there are endless phone calls, emails, etc trying to catch everyone up.

I propose a radical concept and therefore boycott Boycott A Meeting Day:  instead of just not having meeting because they don’t work well, how about have more effective meetings?  How to do that?  My quick tips:

  • First things first, ensure that whatever is you are trying to accomplish is something that will benefit form an in-person or on-phone meeting:  group input, group informing, group problem solving, or something else requiring all meeting attendees on deck.  Just showing off knowledge is not a good reason.
  • Have a set agenda with set goals, tell everyone how those goals can be accomplished at the beginning of the meeting.
  • Send the agenda around days before
  • Send anything that people need to be aware of beforehand, around days in advance (or as far in advance as possible) – some people are reflectors and will want the time to formulate thoughts
  • If there are individuals in the room that may be upset by the meeting topics and could hijack the meeting as a result, call them before hand and hear them out.  If something new comes up in the meeting, table it.
  • Have a parking lot where tangent topics sit to be address later – you’re staying to an agenda after all.
  • Respect time – start on-time and end on-time.  if you have to run over, ask everyone if they are comfortable scheduling more time and if not, find another time.  Being accountable on time will half folks take future meetings more seriously.  (and you as the meeting organizer, for that matter!)
  • Link your meeting in line with your big picture time lines – review what’s been done, talk about what needs to be done, mention things that everyone in the room needs to know or needs to give input in.
  • Set ground rules for speaking – if you’re just going to bicker the whole time, it won’t work.  Make sure everyone is heard, all agenda items are heard, notes are being taken for future reference (and those that miss the meeting), and that respectful tones are used.
  • Have all visuals sent ahead of time and ensure clarity.
  • Have a dry erase board/flip chart or electronic equivalent available for brainstorming and have it all set up ahead of time – appoint a great visual thinker to draw out any ideas or concepts (if frameworks appear then, draw them out – will save time later)
  • Budget in a little bit of bonding time if appropriate – ice breakers are a great way to build comradery and loosen people up to talk about tougher topics.

And the main thing for a good meeting:  ensure that everyone just respects each other!  Time is of the essence and no one wants to waste it all working!



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