Most of us love to complain about meetings. We hate them. We gripe about having to attend them. But we sometimes admit we’ve had a good meeting. A good meeting gets people face-to-face and can get a lot done in a short time. Why are good meetings so rare? As it happens, I happen to be somewhat known for holding good meetings and will tell you five reasons why:
- No agenda. Unless it’s a very specific or very small meeting, you must have an agenda. Send it out at least 24 hours in advance to let people know whether the meeting does actually apply to them and to allow them to prepare for it.
- No minutes. Unless it’s a very specific or very small meeting, you must send out meeting minutes. Send them to the participants within 24 hours of the meeting. Minutes should tell who attended, the bullet points of what you did, and any action items. Action items must have someone assigned to them and a due date.
- Meeting starts or ends late. Start the meeting on-time. End the meeting on-time. It’s as simple as that. Watch the clock. Expect people to be on-time (expect it and more people will actually try to do it, for one). After all, respect the time of the people who showed-up to get them in and get them out. And there’s no shame to ending early if you finish the items — people might even thank you for it.
- People who hog the floor or rehash the same issues. The meeting’s chair needs to keep the meeting flowing. If this person cannot do it, you must find someone who can. It shows a lack of respect to all in the room when the meeting chair makes no attempt to keep the meeting flowing as it wastes everyone’s time. People who hog the floor or who keep bringing up issues that have been resolved need to be redirected.
- Lack of Preparation. This is another area where people’s time is wasted — when there hasn’t been enough preparation for the meeting it does not flow the way it should and less is accomplished than should have been. It becomes more likely that there will be another meeting to address the discussions that the meeting didn’t get to.