This is my top 10 list for time management for meetings. Time is all you have and meetings are one of the biggest time wasters. Follow the rules, save time, get results.
- Start meeting exactly at the time it was scheduled. Do not wait for those who are late. Those who come on time do not have to suffer. Let those who’re late feel uncomfortable entering the room that’s already engaged, this should force them come on time next.
- Decline meetings that you cannot contribute anything significant. When declining ask to include you when sending out the summary notes. If summary notes aren’t being sent, then it was not worth in first place. if the notes being sent, you have just enough info to decide if you should attend next or skip it.
- Define clear agenda beforehand and distribute to the attendees with short lead time so it keeps fresh while in people’s inboxes. Send clear message similar to this: “This is what we are going to discuss…”. And then 3 to 5 bulleted one liners, but no more. With short and clear list of topics chances the meeting will fit into its schedule and that everyone would stay engaged and on topic. If it ends earlier even better!
- Set clear goals/outcomes for the meeting. Defining topics is one thing, setting expectations for the outcomes is another. You can talk hours about the topic without producing anything actionable. Mitigate this risk by adding to the agenda the following one liner: “by the end of this meeting I’d like to have…” and then add the expected outcomes.
- Summarize action items during the meeting. Project the agenda on the screen during the meeting and as you step through the agenda items add actionable notes to each. Don’t add ton of text (gosh, seen that so many times… the summary with ton of blurbage that impossible to parse)
- When summarizing the outcomes include at least these vital three: “what”, “accountable”, “due by”. Avoid summaries like “we need to do blah and blee” – it will never be accomplished. Instead assign outcomes to real person with real dates this person can commit for.
- Finish the meeting exactly on time. If not you let people get used to spend your time without boundaries. Also it helps educating people not to waste time during the meeting for irrelevant things that eat up time.
- Read the summary notes out loud just before the meeting ends. Make sure everyone understood what was agreed, what needs to be produced, who took responsibility for each action item and by when it needs to be delivered.
- Send out the meeting and add yourself in CC so you get the summary in your Inbox as you would get any other actionable email. It has the checklist of items. If one of them yours, then start tackling it by scheduling. It would also serve you well next when you meet for the follow up meeting.
- When meeting for the follow up meeting pull the summary as your agenda and make sure everyone addressed their work items. Close the loop.
image by sarkasmo