Unfortunately, most jobs involve meetings of some kind. You might even be in charge of running them. If that's the case, take a look at these nine ways to make your meetings shorter and better.
Do you hate meetings? If so, you’re in good company.
Unfortunately, most jobs involve meetings of some kind. You might even be in charge of running them. If that’s the case, take a look at these nine ways to make your meetings shorter and better.
1. Announce at the beginning how long the meeting is going to last and stick to it. A good trick is to put a clock in plain view where all can see the minutes ticking by.
2. Start meetings when you say they are going to start and maintain a zero-tolerance policy toward latecomers. Do not brief them on what’s already been covered. Consider punishing them in some good-natured way; charge them a buck, say, or make them serve the coffee. (The idea is to humiliate them enough to make them change their behavior, but not so much that they feel resentful.)
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3. Set a crystal-clear, doable agenda and stick to it. If other issues come up, make note of them and then get back to the agenda. Aim to keep all meetings to under one hour. People just can’t focus for longer than that.
4. If you have attendees who tend to go on and on — and who doesn’t? — establish a time limit for how long any one person can talk. If you have to, use an egg timer. (Seriously.) In addition, invite only people who have a reason to attend.
5. Ban electronic devices (smartphones, laptops, tablets); it’s a huge incentive to get that meeting over with quickly. Yes, it is possible to take notes with paper and pencil.
6. Schedule your meetings for first thing in the morning, when people are more alert and still intending to get something done that day.
7. Try holding your meetings standing up. Standing meetings are always shorter than sitting meetings.
8. This may sound kind of diabolical, but try keeping the meeting room a little cold. People will be eager to finish up and get back to their more-comfortable work areas.
9. Finally, don’t provide food. It’s a distraction, and it’s messy.
Become known for running fast, efficient, productive meetings and you won’t have to bribe people to get them to come.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.