Keep Meetings Short and Sweet
often spend hundreds of dollars an hour without even realizing what
they’ve done. How do they get away with this? It’s simple. They
hold a meeting.
every time a manager conducts a meeting with several people, he or
she should consider the investment. Think of it this way: Convert
each attendee’s salary to their hourly wage for the length of the
meeting. Especially when considering higher-paid employees such as
department heads, well, you get the picture.
managers, especially senior ones, would do well to be aware of the
total expenditure and be motivated to renovate their meeting style
and activity. For example, being better-prepared or finding ways to
make meetings more efficient, and therefore shorter, can reap many
benefits. During 2014, please consider the investment you are making
in meetings and really make every moment count.
must have a written agenda. This doesn’t have to be circulated, nor
must the group approve it. The meeting leader can even scribble the
agenda on a napkin if she likes. It still counts as a written topical
plan, the key to preventing a meeting from devolving into tangents
and trivia. It’s perfectly fine to have attendees add items to this
they should give the meeting leader a heads-up on their addition. It
can be acceptable to enter the meeting with an unseen item. However,
an attendee adding a time-consuming item to the agenda without prior
discussion can result in what one of my peers used to refer to as
the topic an attendee selects may not be appropriate for that
specific meeting, or perhaps the management lead would have liked
some time to prepare thoughts about the topic prior to discussion.
start time and maximum length of a meeting must be a solid contract
with the constituents. If the leader of a meeting is never late, it’s
highly likely the attendees will be late. Meetings should rarely run
over the prescribed time. They may always be shorter.
often than not, after the leader of a meeting covers an agenda, he
will proceed one-by-one around the table asking others if they have
anything they’d like to report or discuss. It should be made
perfectly clear that while individuals should do very brief updates,
they may also choose not to say a word.
often, people feel pressured to say something simply because everyone
at the table is contributing to the discussion. This is
counterproductive and encourages mundane and often irrelevant topics
often exercise wisdom by cancelling regularly scheduled group
meetings. This can happen during a very busy time for a station when
everyone has so many projects, they don’t have enough hours in the
day. It can occur when a manager simply doesn’t form a substantial
agenda that requires an entire group. And here’s one that is often
missed until the late minute: Too many people are on vacation or
simply not open to attend.
most effective meetings you’ll have with staff are likely
one-on-one. Vary the location so that the meeting is not always in
your office. Coffee shops are good. Bars can work. Outside on a bench
is a nice change of scenery. The mere location can be mood-altering
and enables the person to hear more clearly whatever compliment or
correction you are delivering. Some of the most memorable meetings
I’ve had with bosses have been during walks on sunny days.
all meetings have to be in person? Absolutely not! It’s about time
you offered more flexibility in how people join your meetings. Let
them Skype in, or try Google+ for multiple on-camera abilities. At
the least, allow people to literally phone it in without punishment.
meetings have a smartphone rule? Yes. Discuss the “on/off”
approach with your group to drive consensus. Some groups will want
all phones shut down or at least on vibrate. Others will want
permission to check email or voicemail once every 10 minutes. Feel
free to try different approaches and see what works best for your
it’s sales, programming or department head meetings, two things are
certain: Everybody has real work to do; and nobody enjoys long
Lapidus is president of Lapidus Media.