Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 4, Issue 33;   August 18, 2004: How to Make Meetings Worth Attending

How to Make Meetings Worth Attending

by

Many of us spend seemingly endless hours in meetings that seem dull, ineffective, or even counterproductive. Here are some insights to keep in mind that might help make meetings more worthwhile — and maybe even fun.

So much of what we call "meeting" is actually joint, aimless conversation. And, feeling helpless to make a difference, we tend to blame others for the situation. I have good news: we can make our meetings more energetic, more effective, shorter, and more fun. Here are some insights that can help.

  • A meetingIf you're considering inviting some people, but you don't want to hear what they have to say, don't invite them.
  • Holding four conversations in parallel makes the meeting last four times as long.
  • To make the meeting shorter, speak less.
  • A meeting should be as short as possible and no shorter.
  • The best antidote for dull, boring meetings is humor.
  • Unless you want to relive an agenda item next time, assign some kind of an action item to move it forward.
  • Meetings are for issues. Email is for announcements.
  • If the length of the meeting's time slot, in minutes, divided by the number of people attending is 4 or less, either the meeting is too short or you have way too many people.
  • Withholding the agenda until the meeting starts is a good way to surprise everybody.
  • The best antidote
    for dull, boring
    meetings is humor
    If some people aren't talking enough, consider the possibility that other people are talking too much.
  • Screaming people make bad decisions.
  • Bad decisions make screaming people.
  • Interrupting people is the best way to get them not to hear you.
  • We're not here just to discuss. We're here to resolve.
  • Rushing to a resolution gets you to the wrong place as fast as possible.
  • All meetings take at least as long as you have set aside for them.
  • If the agenda remains unchanged after the first item, maybe people aren't really engaged…or maybe they're being railroaded.
  • Unless you agree in advance about how to run the meeting, most people assume that it will be run their way.
  • If the chair doesn't intervene when the meeting boils over, leave — or get cooked.
  • Robert's Rules are too much baggage for any group with fewer people than the number of rules in Robert's Rules.
  • If you can't make a decision because you're missing some information, talking about it some more probably won't help.
  • You'll be assigned fewer action items if you actually attend.
  • Raising topics that could result in action items for others invites retribution.
  • To make the heavy lifting easier, start the meeting with appreciations for the contributions of specific people.
  • When someone speaks from the heart, listen to the beat.

Get together with some buddies and pick your top five from this list plus your own items. Together, take action at your next meeting. Notice what works and do more of that next time. Repeat until meetings are fun. Go to top Top  Next issue: Some Truths About Lies: II  Next Issue

101 Tips for Effective MeetingsDo you spendyour days scurrying from meeting to meeting? Do you ever wonder if all these meetings are really necessary? (They aren't) Or whether there isn't some better way to get this work done? (There is) Read 101 Tips for Effective Meetings to learn how to make meetings much more productive and less stressful — and a lot more rare. Order Now!

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People use a variety of tactics when they're interrupted while making contributions in meetings. Some tactics work well, while others carry risks of their own. Here's Part II of a little survey of those tactics. Available here and by RSS on June 6.

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