Have you ever had the feeling like the meeting you’re currently in is never going to end? Feeling like the meeting that was initially called for has gone so far off course that it has found Aslan in Narnia? Here’s a trophy for you because if you’re still surviving the countless mind numbing hours then you’re a champ!
As you sit there tapping your fingers and staring off into space while your colleague drones on and on about something or other, I hope you’ll take comfort in knowing that you and me and a whole lot of other people are currently also in the same boat, the same sad sad boat.
And while we’re here rowing down this stream of endless discussions in the meeting, it’s time we make a change. It’s time we have more productive meetings, it’s time we refuse to let our day be ruined by a bad meeting and change the way we approach meetings in the future.
Here are a few things we can do together to put an end to never ending meetings:
1. Set a specific time
Have a specific time in the week for meetings and stick to that specific time. Refrain from calling for meetings more frequently than the allocated time unless it is absolutely dire. This will get people to stick to what they have to say and prioritize what needs to be discussed.
These meetings should also not exceed an hour unless and should typically be during downtime in the day –right after lunch. This would prevent the mistake of taking people away from doing really productive instead of having to sit through another meeting they can’t concentrate on because they’ve got something else they need to be working on.
2. Get everyone’s commitment
Upon entering the meeting the most important step that you need to do is to make sure everyone is committed to the meeting. Get everyone to fully commit to being present and to not do anything else in between, to fully participate and just listen to the person speaking.
Should anyone have anything to add they would have to hold it until the person speaking is done and if someone is found doing something else they would have to either pay a small fine or leave the room.
3. Determine an agenda
After you’ve gotten everyone’s consent to be fully present the meetings, you need to inform everyone what are the objectives you wish to achieve in the meeting that has been called for. What’s the point of a meeting? It is to discuss certain things to clarify certain issues and to understand certain things for you to be more effective.
If you aren’t the person calling for the meeting, get the person who called for the meeting to list out the objectives of the meeting before starting to stay on track.
The problem in most meetings is that people do know not what the meeting is about specifically and run in ten different directions trying to find what they think is the pink elephant in the room.
4. Stay on track
Stick strictly to achieving the objective of the meeting, refrain yourself from veering off topic. If you have other nagging thoughts that you want to discuss schedule a different meeting and set that discussion for a later day.
If the team is forever jumping from one topic to another without actually fully discussing it then the time and energy that had been invested to trouble shoot a certain problem would have all gone to waste.
Quick tip, if you feel that the team is starting to run off topic, put in a quick remember by asking prompting questions like ‘will that help towards solving our problem?’ or ‘how does that add value to our current topic of discussion?’
5. Stick to the time limit
Appoint a time keeper for every meeting. This time keeper is responsible for making sure that the meeting ends within the allocated time.
It would mean that he or she would have to tell everyone that you’re half way through, and conclude the discussion at 5 minutes to the end of time.
This will give everyone a sense of urgency and seriousness in achieving the mission of the meeting instead of running off topic.
Ever been stuck in a meeting where you feel you’d rather watch paint dry? Have any interesting stories to tell? Or would like to tell us how you made meetings more effective then leave us a comment in the section below. I would love to read them all.
Also if you’re too shy then say hi via email at firstname.lastname@example.org