CASE STUDY. How to Know When The Meeting’s Over



I once worked (briefly) for an organization that held quarterly sales meetings that went from 9 to 5. By 9:15 a.m. my eyes ached as I desperately struggled to keep them open while attempting to disguise a stream of yawns distorting my face. I could have been making phone calls, meeting customers or clearing the work off my desk as could everybody else.

Four days a year, organizational productivity took a nosedive as a result of these highly trained highly paid people sitting in a room shooting the breeze. Since there was no agenda to define what we were there to accomplish, there was no way of knowing when the meeting was over.

To avoid this from happening to you, here are 12 ways to help you keep a meeting on track:

    1. Make sure the topic is something that can only be taken care of in a meeting.

    2. Define the meeting’s purpose agenda start & finish times.

    3. Set time for each item on the agenda.

    4. Distribute the agenda before the meeting and ask attendees to come prepared.

    5. Invite only the people you really need.

    6. Stick a meeting in progress post-it on a closed door to avoid distractions.

    7. Start & end on time.

    8. Determine necessary actions for each topic i.e., are you making a decision, weighing alternatives, or just sharing information

    9. Hold up two fingers when people carry on to let them know they’ve made their point so you can move on.

    10. Refuse to rehash an item once a decision is made.

    11. Stick to the agenda by parking topics that throw you off course for discussion at next meeting.

    12. Track process and progress.

Following the above tips will result in much more effective meetings. In addition, when you are running the meeting, do not relinquish control of the process. It’s fine to relinquish control of the meeting’s content by letting others take the floor and be the expert, but you must retain control of the process to ensure that you make progress.

That way you know when the meeting’s over i.e., when the time is up or the outcomes defined in the agenda are accomplished whichever comes first.


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