Five Steps to a Productive Meeting

By: Dr. Donald E. Wetmore

It is said that on an average day in the United States, there will be 17 million meetings. (It makes you wonder how anything ever gets done!) A meeting is two or more people getting together to exchange information. What could be simpler? Yet, it is one of the biggest institutional time wasters that we suffer.

An informative exercise is to calculate the hourly cost of the meeting. A person earning $50,000 per year represents an hourly salary cost to the organization of $25 (without adding in benefits, overhead, and profit potential). If ten people at this salary level meet for one hour, the cost is $250 for the hour. Then look at what was accomplished. Was it worth $250? Sometimes “yes.” A lot of the times, “no.”

I have created five steps that will help you to improve the productivity of your meetings. Even if you are not responsible for running the meeting, bring these suggestions to the person who is responsible.

  1. Ask, “Is It Necessary?” We always hold the meeting because we have always held the meeting. What would happen if it did not take place? What if we did not meet quite so often? How about if we met once a month instead of every week?
  2. Ask The Question, “Am I Necessary?” Now I do not mean this in the deep philosophical sense, but, rather, “do I get anything out of the meeting?” and “do I contribute anything to the meeting?” If the answers to those two questions are both “no,” try to avoid attending the meeting. Or, perhaps just the first half of the meeting is relevant to you. In this case, see if there is a way to get excused from the second half of the meeting.
  3. Prepare An Agenda. Just as it is a good practice to prepare a daily “to do list” to help us get focused each day, we ought to have a written agenda for our meeting. Circulate it in advance to those who will be attending. Let them know what is to be discussed. Give them a chance to prepare. Do not hold meetings by “ambush.”
  4. Set The Times. Have a starting time and stick to it. Set time for each item to be discussed so that one item does not dominate the entire meeting leaving no time to discuss the other items. Have an ending time and stick to it.
  5. Commit To Action. Meetings ought to produce results. Resolve to a course of action. We have discussed the issue, so now what? Assign responsibility for the tasks to specific individuals with deadlines and hold them accountable.

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Dr. Donald E. Wetmore

Certified Executive Coach, Consultant and Trainer
Author, “Organizing Your Life” and “The Productivity Handbook”
Productivity Institute
Personal Productivity Solutions to Leverage Your Impact
127 Jefferson St.
Stratford, CT 06615
(203) 386-8062
(800) 969-3773
info@balancetime.com
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