5 Questions to End the Slow Painful Death of Death by Meetings

In a leadership training class on communication in the workplace, I had one participant tell the group that meetings at his company were the biggest waste of time. When probed as to why, the basic gist of it came down to two reasons:

1. No one knows why the heck a meeting has been called and/or why they need to be there

2. Nothing results from the meetings

Because of this dialogue as well as other feedback we had received, we started incorporating a segment on effective meetings into our standard Communication Outline lineup.

Whether you are dealing with these two major meeting issues or just want to sharpen the saw on facilitating effective meetings, here is a checklist of questions to ask yourself:

1. Do you even need to have a meeting? Is there a more effective way to communicate and/or make decisions?

2. If a meeting is needed, what is the meeting’s objective? Clearly outline an agenda that meets this objective and send it out to all participants ahead of time. While in the meeting, stick only to topics related to the objective. If a topic comes up outside the scope of the meetings objective, politely redirect the conversation back to the objective and remind people you are doing so out of respect for everyone’s time.

3. Who really needs to be there? We often include people because we don’t want to hurt feelings and/or we simply don’t take the time to think through who needs to be at the table. Only include those who are truly needed. In the case where decisions need to be made in a meeting, the smaller the group the better.

4. Did the meeting result in decisions, action items and timelines centered-round the meeting’s objective?

5. Did you put in place a mechanism to follow-up on the action items and timelines set forth in the meeting?

Mary Ila Ward

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