Seven rules for holding good meetings

For many people, meetings can feel like a waste of time, soaking up hours and getting in the way of work. However, it doesn’t have to be that way, writes Amy Gallo in the Harvard Business Review. In conversation with Paul Axtell, author of Meetings Matter: 8 Powerful Strategies for Remarkable Conversations, she identifies seven key points to make meetings faster and more effective.

  1. Limit attendance: If you invite ten or more people to a meeting then many will never have the opportunity to speak, and, more importantly, won’t feel the need to. Instead, reducing the size of the group to four or five people will mean that you get a lot more done.
  2. No devices: Don’t allow people to use phones or laptops in meetings – it distracts them and distracts others, meaning the meeting is less productive for everyone. What’s more, it’s rude.
  3. Limit length: If your meeting is lasting longer than an hour, people will lose focus. Conversely, while operating under time pressure people will focus on work and getting things done. However, don’t try to stuff the meeting into too small a slot – otherwise, you won’t have the time to talk through what you need to.
  4. Stand up: Try standing up or stepping away from a desk – it may well make the meeting shorter and more to the point.
  5. Call on everyone to speak: Some people won’t speak up unless asked, so make sure that you do so. Doing so will add their voice and opinion to the conversation and boost their commitment to the project.
  6. Skip status update meetings: Status updates can be handled by email. If you’re holding meetings just to keep the team informed, they’re likely to be a waste of time.
  7. Set the agenda ahead of time: Doing so will provide a structure and programme for your meeting and minimise time wasting.

The condensed guide to running meetings

Image: Unsplash/Climate KIC

If you’d like to learn more ways to make your team more productive and motivated, try Liton Ali’s productivity and time management workshop at Henshall Centre.

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