Have you ever attended a meeting and wondered why?
Worse, have you ever attended a regular weekly meeting and wondered why every week?
When I was a young manager, I used to attend a ‘Section Heads’ meeting every Monday. They were time consuming (they’d take the entire morning). They were boring. And they were expensive. (Imagine how much a three hour meeting involving up to 12 managers actually costs in salaries alone – and then add a bit on for all the overtime used 'catching up'.)
Most importantly, they were ineffective. One of the reasons they were ineffective is that a lot of time was spent on a ‘weekly update’ from each attendee. Everyone seemed to find lots to say that showed their colleagues just how much busier they'd been than the previous speaker. In effect, it was a competition to see who could find the most to say! Not exactly conducive to an efficient use of time.
Other reasons they were ineffective included late arrivals, a lack of clear goals and no finish time - they just seemed to go on and on until we ran out of words.
On a positive note, these meetings, which I endured every Monday for several years, did provide the inspiration for our training video, ‘The Ineffective Meeting’. So, every cloud…
Since we launched Trainers' Library in 2003, my colleagues and I have have written lots of training activities that will help ensure you don't suffer the way I did as a young manager.
But if I had to condense all that training into just six golden rules, I think this would be them:
Have an agenda and clear goal.
Only involve those necessary for you to achieve that goal.
Start on time.
Have a facilitator/chair who can keep the meeting on track.
Agree what’s been agreed and what is going to be done next, and by whom.
Finish on time.
It sounds simple doesn't it? It is. But how often have you attended meetings that don't come close to following these six simple rules?