June 2017

How to Avoid Bad Meetings

Most of us are meeting to death! Not only are there too many meetings, but also the quality of the meetings have much to be desired. A good meeting is a rare meeting, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can improve the productiveness and effectiveness of your meetings making them a valuable use of time with five simple yet proven steps:

1) Have an agenda. It never ceases to amaze me how many meetings people attend without an agenda. Every meeting must have a purpose and desired outcomes. Build your agenda to accomplish both or risk wasting everyone’s time.

2) Publish the agenda. Everyone should know why the meeting is needed, what will be accomplished, and what will be discussed. Without clearly documenting this, your meetings can lack the focus they desperately need.

3) Follow the agenda. Depending on the topics, the attendees, the environment, and the outcomes, this can be challenging without strong facilitation skills. This role must be assigned and everyone must respect the facilitator, or you’ll lose control of your meeting.

4) Establish meeting guidelines. People are social beings and without some structure, meetings can become a free for all in which nothing significant is accomplished except for talking. Decide which guidelines will help you facilitate a valuable meeting, keep them to a minimum, get agreement on them, and enforce them otherwise they are useless.

5) Document what happened. Since every meeting must have a purpose and outcomes, document whether you achieved them or not by choosing an efficient and effective way to do this. You can simply update the agenda, capture an action list, or take a picture of the whiteboard. It serves as a reminder of what happened and informs those who didn’t attend. This not only saves time in the next meeting but it also facilitates accountability for decisions and actions that must be taken.

Although there are many dynamics that contribute to excellent facilitation, I’m continually surprised how many people complain about meetings yet they don’t follow these basic rules. The good news is that you can dramatically improve your meeting effectiveness with just these five steps. If you’re not skilled at planning or running a meeting, find someone who is or learn to master this yourself. We can help! Ready2ACT offers meeting planning, facilitation services, and training in Facilitation and Presentation skills.