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Demand Effective Meeting Management

May 24, 2012

There is nothing I hate more than starting a meeting late either because I as the host am late to my own meeting or am waiting on key individuals to join a meeting. Often it is because our schedules hold us as hostages as our meetings run to the exact end of the hour or even worse case run over past the hour.

Having a meeting end exactly at the top of the hour or run over causes great grief to all in attendance and negatively impacts all of the meetings that follow downstream. It causes a ripple effect throughout the day.

Although we all feel we are held hostage, let’s quit being the victims. Let’s unite and revolt against the machine and have on time meetings become the new norm.

1) Start meetings on time: If you are the host, start it on time and don’t’ wait for laggards. Don’t catch them up as then enter in late. Let them be embarrassed. As attendees insist that the host starts the meeting on time if they don’t feel comfortable doing it themselves. Empower them by given them your united permission to do so. If the host is late to their own meeting? Leave. Your time is valuable and you and your own time should be respected; after having it happen a couple of times they’ll get the hint.

2) Agendas: Have an agenda that folks know up front such that the pace of the meeting and its progress can be monitored. It allows for course corrections if needed as you go vs. discovering at the end all that wasn’t covered. No agenda? Demand one.

3) Action Items: Insist that you review action items assigned throughout the meeting at least 15 minutes before the end of the hour. Give yourself 5 minutes to review them. If the host doesn’t do this, as attendees insist that you do it. These are actionable commitments that are confirmed and make the meeting worthwhile. This is a quick checklist confirmation; if you waited until now to assign action items you’re already off course.

4) End Early: End the meeting 10 minutes before the end of the hour. That’s right, no 60 minute meetings: 50 minutes is the new max. Kick folks out of the meeting at 10 till the hour. Again, if the host doesn’t end the meeting early then as attendees insist on it. You’ve got someplace to be at the top of the hour and the group waiting on your room needs a minute or two to set up, dial in, etc.

5) No Whining / No Victims; Get Up And Leave: If you have another commitment at the top of the hour and the host doesn’t respond to either the call for reviewing actions and/or ending at ten till, then you have an expiration date. At 5 till just get up and leave. All of you. It should be the host who is embarrassed, not you…

We are social animals. It is our nature to never like rocking the boat and to fit in to the social norms. If we all start doing what I suggest these behaviors will become the new social norm. I also know I’m one of the worst offenders; you have my permission to do this to me during my meetings. If you do I’ll thank you. If I don’t thank you then call me on it.

Best,
-Mark

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