Meetings-The Final Ring of Hell

There is no more painful calculation than looking around a conference room, during a boring, nonproductive meeting and figuring out how much it is costing in staff time for everyone to be there. Personal estimates have run from $190 for a small meeting that only lasted one painful hour to an all day retreat where nothing was accomplished and it cost $5,100 in staff time.

If you are leading a committee, here are some strategies to make the time more productive:

Have a clear agenda- Standing meetings with no purpose are the reason why so many people think meetings are a waste of time. Set a clear agenda before the meeting and give people time to add their own agenda items. The agenda should also include the goal of the meeting, so everyone is clear on what needs to be accomplished.

Make the time clear- Have clear start and ending times and stick to it. Don’t wait 20 minutes for everyone to show up. If you get started on time people that are often late will start to come on time because they know that you respect their time, so they’ll respect yours.

Determine who has to be there- Some meetings may only need to have some of the team members there. It is better to proactively think about who needs to be at each meeting and make the invitations contingent on absolute necessity.

Decide if the meeting really needs to happen- If the core purpose of a meeting is check in’s about a project, save everybody the wasted time and have a document that summarizes where everyone is rather than making them sit through a painful meeting where only a minute or two is relevant to their part of the project.

Good meetings are the result of good leadership. Take the initiative and make it the meeting timely, useful, and relevant for all participants. They’ll appreciate their time being used wisely and you’ll get what you need from your committee.