It’s estimated that more than 11 million meetings take place in the United States each day — and more than half of them are considered total wastes of time.
Running a crisp, clear meeting is the sign of a good leader. Want to improve the way you handle meetings? Try one or more of these 10, simple tips, and they’ll start calling you “the meeting master.”
1. Focus on no more than three to five topics — It’s said the human brain can’t absorb any more than three to five points at any one time. Obey this simple rule (and collect all your minor stuff in the “Other” category).
2. Estimate the time you think you’ll need for the meeting — then halve it. Facebook, Google and other tech giants use standing meetings, as well as six-minute meetings. Things get done fast.
3. Assign objectives to each item — “Discussion of study” is a flabby agenda item. “Discuss study and determine next three steps” is an objective.
4. Make the clock the enemy by assigning time allocations to each item. That way you can say, “Okay, we only have a minute left for this one…”
5. Review stuff in advance by “pre-meeting” with principals and decisionmakers. You might even consider discussing what the decision should be (the Japanese call this “nemawashi,” or “going around the roots”).
6. Start and end on time — Trust me, they’ll love you for honoring their time.
7. Lay your ground rules out right away — How will you handle questions? Off-topic discussions? Interruptions? Players play fair if the referee is clear on the rules.
8. Create a “parking lot” for stuff you can’t decide right then and there —This takes care of off-topic matters, as well as stuff people feel passionately about, but can’t resolve.
9. Interrupt the interrupters — Remember, you’re in charge, and they’re breaking the rules. “Janice, let me interject here and let Michael finish.” Everyone deserves the honor of completing their thought.
10. Summarize, assign, follow up — not only at the end of the meeting, but in an email following. What did you decide? What are the next steps? Are things getting done?