Meeting Madness

Do you have too many meetings in a typical week? It happens often and you can suffer from “meeting madness” as a result. This is an affliction caused by too many meetings that aren’t focused, take too long, and accomplish a tenth of what you expect.

If you’re tired of the madness, here are some practical tips to create some sanity.

Start and end on time. This may seem obvious, but it’s often breached because people are late. That isn’t fair to those who are on time, especially if it means that you’ll run late. Stay true to the end time even if you aren’t finished. It will help build the discipline to begin and end on time in the future.

Have an agenda and stick to it. Agendas keep the meeting moving and help the facilitator to stay on point. If you have a robust agenda for a short time frame, agree on the most important items that must be covered during the designated time.

Practice your wrangling skills. Sometimes you may have long-winded participants and you need to make sure that they don’t hijack the meeting. As the facilitator, politely interject, thank them for their comments, and remind them that you have more agenda items to cover.

Designate follow-up accountabilities. Make sure that participants know their designated follow-up items and the corresponding deadlines.

If you implement these points, the quality of your meetings should increase dramatically and meeting madness should diminish.

Increasingly, meetings are held on conference calls or video conference. The same rules apply, and I want to address one more point especially for conference calls. I was surprised when a client asked me about the “etiquette” of multitasking (that is, emailing) during conference calls.

If you email during a meeting, you have essentially left the meeting. When people email while on a conference call, it means one of a few things: (1) the meeting is boring, (2) they aren’t interested (that is, they have to be present but don’t participate), or (3) they have a conflicting deadline and should have excused themselves from attending.

The bottom line? Don’t do it. If you have other pressing priorities, decline the meeting invitation.

Managing meeting madness is challenging become time is so precious and people feel pressured from yet another obligation. With that in mind, keep meetings short, stay on purpose, and don’t let the discussion drag on.

Have a great week!

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