I was going through my files, cleaning things up, and came across this graphic. I would love to cite the source but all I have on it is I got it off SlideShare somewhere, if I can find the origin I will update accordingly. Regardless it doesn’t change the accuracy of the content of its message.
Meetings are a necessary evil in the business world and in my experience most of them are worthless wastes of time (harsh but true). A summary email can accomplish the same result as an hour long meeting that had no direction or purpose to come to the same conclusion everyone already knew going in to the meeting. Why meet?
As a meeting organizer it’s your responsibility to have a full vetted purpose, direction and goals. Meetings are not a gathering place to multitask through emails, half pay attention and attendees do not contribute.
That’s why I saved this graphic and try to follow these in meeting I hold.
Lets break them down –
Email an agenda 24 hours in advance – Meetings are not places for improvisation. Have a plan and get that plan to all the attendees ahead of time. Go as far as making it clear that if it’s not on the agenda, we don’t discuss it. Get input before the meeting starts. You will find your meetings will be shorter and more productive.
Arrive 5 minutes early – My biggest pet peeve is punctuality. Arrive on time. End your meetings 5 or 10 minutes before the top of the hour. Colleges and high schools do this to allow time to travel and prepare for the next meeting, why doesn’t your company do the same? You are losing time regardless, better it be under your terms and not people who show up late.
Start and end on time – Have a planned agenda, people who are late lose out if they are, and stop when you say you will.
Come prepared – 24 hour agenda ahead of time is more than enough to gather your thoughts and materials.
No Smartphones – I go as far as say no open laptops except for the designated note keeper and/or presenter. People are here to discuss, meet, not side track emails or browse the web.
Bring a pen and paper – Again, no technology. You as a person recall information far more effectively when you write it down. Transcribe it digitally as part of your end of the day routine.
Share all relevant data – Meeting are intended for collaboration, team work, fluidity. Put it all on the table or forever hold your peace.
Stay on topic – A pre-sent agenda help keep the purpose on track. No drifting off topic. Not on the agenda you defer it.
Be brief and concise – Pre-sent agenda, coming prepared, you know what to contribute and what not to contribute.
No interrupting – Do not allow your meetings to be debate rooms. When you are talking you expect other to remain silent until you are completed, do the same.
Silence = agreement – Don’t speak up if you agree. Discuss alternatives, options, and disagreements. Don’t say you agree just to speak, then you are looking like you like to hear yourself speak.
No side conversations or comments – We’re all adults here, most of us, stay on topic, remain respectful, you are in this meeting for a purpose. Take your side comments outside after the meeting has concluded.
Disagree without being disagreeable – No one likes to be wrong. You are all working toward the same goal, effective solutions, no matter what those are. Don’t disagree without offering alternatives, if you have none how can you disagree? Stick to facts rather than emotion. Never say the word No.
Challenge ideas rather than people – Don’t make it personal. It’s a business meeting, focus on the business goals. Where an idea came from is irrelevant if the solution matches the business directions. Take your school yard issues elsewhere. You don’t have to like the people you work with but you do have to work with them in a professional manner. If you cannot separate business and personal then you are in the wrong profession.
Follow-up by email within 24 hours – Collaboration only works when everyone has access to all the information. Have an assigned note taker. Gather the notes, the ideas, the pros and cons and the decision both approved and not approved and send it out. If you can’t show why you had meeting and walked out with moving the ball forward on a project or initiative then why the heck did you have a meeting?
End of line.
Binary Blogger has spent 20 years in the Information Security space currently providing security solutions and evangelism to clients. From early web application programming, system administration, senior management to enterprise consulting I provide practical security analysis and solutions to help companies and individuals figure out HOW to be secure every day.