Some time ago, I came across this thought provoking quote:

this place is the easiest place to get a meeting
…but the hardest place to get a decision

This is such a great quote, as it captures so well what most of us feel about our place of work and especially the meetings we attend there!

Think about it for a moment. How many of your working hours are simply wasted in unproductive, mind-numbing and meaningless meetings where the issues go round and round and round, with no-one willing to take ownership?
I can recall many meetings I’ve attended in the past that were a complete waste of time, and I am betting you can too. Well, here are 5 simple ways you can put into place immediately to make meetings more productive:
  1. set time aside to plan and prepare – we have all been taught to prepare well, to make sure we have the right information in meetings. But how do you prepare yourself for meetings? It is equally important to be in the right frame of mind, mood or attitude. Take time out immediately before a meeting to get into the best state, letting go of any thoughts, concerns and worries that don’t belong.
  2. be clear on the purpose – set a clear intention for what you want to get from the meeting, and what you have to contribute. Hold onto this intention through the meeting, and make sure the outcomes you have are met.
  3. deal with conflict – in fact, seek it out! There are too many meetings that close, where conflict has been unnoticed, avoided or unresolved. A key role of the chair in any meeting is to mine disagreements, surface them and deal with them.
  4. take a note of the key points – no one has time to read through pages of minutes, but it is important that key points are captured. These can then be followed up after the meeting and reviewed when you meet next time.
  5. keep on track – so vital to keep on track by making sure debates, discussions and conversations are relevant to the meeting’s purpose. Oh….and never over run!
Call to Action
Here are a few questions to help you think about the meetings you attend and chair. Jot down your answers and then seek to change just one thing to make them more interesting, enjoyable and productive…
  • what does your team say about the meetings you chair?
  • what do your colleagues say about them?
  • what can you do to make the meetings you chair more productive?
  • what can you do to influence the chair for the meetings you attend?

Final thought…..don’t spend too much time in meetings!