JS Tip 180: From the Meetings Management Workshops: Conducting the Meeting

We’ve talked about keys, costs, and agendas. Three last suggestions:  

Start on time and set limits. (We’ve talked about this.)

“It’s nine o’clock. Let’s start.” Starting late insults those on time and encourages latecomers.

“This meeting will last no more than thirty-seven minutes. At 9:38, this room will turn into a pumpkin, so we need to manage our time wisely.” This generates focus and energy. (The odd—and precise—number also stands out: “Wow. Thirty-seven minutes.”) 

Focus on the business at hand. After our first tip about meetings, a good friend commented about hours wasted due to lack of engagement, distractions, and multi-tasking.

Make a rule: No cell phones. No messaging. No texting. Anyone playing “Angry Birds” during the meeting gets thrown out the window. Shot from the catapult. (This raises an interesting counter-point: The meeting has to be worthwhile to hold interest.) 

Encourage honesty. Too often, people in meetings don’t speak their minds. Leaders don’t encourage participation. Dominant personalities intimidate the group.

This may require a change in the corporate culture. George Patton said, “If everyone’s thinking alike, then someone isn’t thinking.” Openness provides strength. And safety.     

We’ve said this: Bad meetings eat money and destroy morale. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Next week: Some simple tips about writing. Stuff you may not have thought about before.