I was chatting with someone at a party a few weeks back where we were bemoaning the amount of time we “wasted” in meetings.
Thankfully, my meeting load isn’t as overbearing as it has been but I can remember getting in to work at 7am, doing actual work until 9am, and then being in various meetings until 4pm before working the requisite overtime to get through the rest of the work I had to do.
I’m not sure how much of that 7 hours was wasted but I’m sure it was a high proportion.
So from my experiences, here are the BMBY top seven ways to have a productive meeting.
1. Stand up. If everyone’s standing, no one’s coasting which means everyone’s (hopefully) on top of their game. Also makes meetings as short as the least fit person can stand.
2. No distractions. Turn off Blackberries, computers, phones etc. One of my old A/C directors would check email and take phone calls throughout our (one-on-one) meetings. The result? An undervalued Ed Lee.
3. Notes. If it’s a biggish meeting, have one person who’s job it is to take notes. If you’re busy writing, you’re not thinking and in the world of the knowledge based economy, you should ABT. Always. Be. Thinking.
4. Follow-up. Send round action items and other key discussion themes after the meeting so the proverbial iron is still hot.
5. Agenda. Have one and stick to it. More than three people in a room means there will be at least four opinions that will steer the conversation down at least three blind alleys. Get an agenda and stick to it.
6. Pass the conch. Discussion is good, dissension is good, argument is bad. Let everyone have their turn and you can go from there.
7. Hold it outside of people’s comfort zones. Not in someone’s office or the nearest boardroom. I’d say that the majority of the most creative and productive meetings I’ve been a part of were taken in the presence of alcohol. Take Matthew Stibbe’s great advice and do it in a pub.
What are your top tips?
[Bonus tip – Do as I say, not as I do. Actually, that’s pretty much a blog wide tip. ;-)]