Stop Unproductive Meetings

Company meetings, project meetings, team meetings, even impromptu meetings – the list can go on, and you know how much time is wasted there. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Help your company plan for success and stay competitive by doing the following assessment:

In your company…

  • Is it acceptable for people to show up late for meetings or not show up at all?
  • Is it assumed that the meeting will not be productive?
  • Is it typical that meetings don’t have agendas or if they do, they aren’t adhered to?
  • Is someone in charge of each meeting to ensure the meeting starts and ends on time?
  • Are notes taken at the meeting distributed in a timely manner?
  • Does it seem like people spend way too much time in meeting after meeting?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need to adopt a new routine. Here are eight simple steps that will guide you in the right direction:

  1. Assign a facilitator. This may be the leader, the person who called the meeting, or a third party depending on the size, complexity and length of the session. The facilitator’s role is to make sure the agenda is followed.
  2. Plan ahead when possible. Try to avoid last minute meetings, but if one is necessary, keep it short and focused.
  3. Provide a specific agenda. It should include time, location, purpose, outcome and who will attend the meeting. Distribute at least 48 hours in advance to allow people to be prepared.
  4. Designate a timekeeper. The time keeper’s job is to notify the facilitator at key points during the meeting to keep things running on time. Make sure you cover this detail. If you leave it up to the facilitator, they will focus on watching the clock rather than attend to the agenda.
  5. Have a scribe who will take notes to distribute later. Again, by leaving this critical task up to the facilitator, you are taking away from the purpose of the meeting.
  6. Start on time. How to cure perpetually late meeting interrupters (unless you were notified in advance)? Close the door and when they try to come in, let them know they can’t attend this time. Laying down some ground rules in advance will stop the struggle.  
  7. End on time. Showing people respect their time will gain respect as a leader. If it looks like you aren’t going to get to the entire agenda before the meeting is over, ask for permission to extend it.
  8. Distribute the notes from the meeting promptly. The scribe should get the notes ready immediately after the meeting is over. Deliver by the date you said you would.

Need help with this topic or leadership coaching? Contact Mission Critical Teams.