How to have meetings people won’t hate

By Dan Shaw

What does it take to hold effective meetings, meetings that people will enjoy rather than dread? Let’s look first at the reasons people say they hate meetings, then we can easily identify how to avoid those pitfalls.

Reasons People Hate Meetings

The number one reason (according to GiveMore.com's 2012 survey):
·       Meeting leaders allow attendees to ramble and repeat comments and thoughts.
Other complaints about meetings that were listed as the most frustrating were:
  • Starts late, goes off agenda, finishes late
  • No specific action items or takeaway points
  • No clear purpose or objective
  • Not inspiring or motivating
  • Not organized and there is no agenda
  • Too long
  • Repeating information for late arrivals
  • Weak presenter who is unprepared, monotone, or overly redundant
  • Boring and provides no new or interesting information

These seem perfectly reasonable objections to bad meetings.

Here’s how to avoid these pitfalls:
  • Identify a clear purpose
  • Identify specific action items or takeaway points
  • Distribute an agenda in advance of the meeting to give people time to prepare
  • Do not attend (or require attendance at) meetings unless new info will be conveyed
  • Limit duration of meetings to 90 minutes. If a meeting must run two hours, allow a 10 minute break
  • Start on time, appoint a timekeeper
  • Appoint a recorder
  • Do not repeat info for late arrivals
  • Stay on agenda; appoint a monitor
  • Choose skilled presenters
  • Finish on time
Agenda sets time limits.
The agenda should specify time allotted to each topic. Because if not times are specified, it gives the mis-impression that everything is equally important.

Create a visual record.
If everyone in the room can see the minutes being recorded, this solves several problems at once. It minimizes repetition…

For more info on Running effective meetings, agendas, and visual records see:

© 2013 DanShaw.com