“If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings.” – Dave Barry
That quote by humorist Dave Barry puts in perspective the prevailing world view on meetings.
Meetings tend to get a lot of bad press , much of it justified. Most meetings fail. Of the 40-60 hours per month that employees spend in meetings less than 10 % of these hours are constructive hours spent. Certainly a great many meetings waste a great deal of everyone’s time and seem to be held for ancient unknown rather than sane reasons.
Infact a good many meetings tend to be conducted to delay decisions and diffuse responsibility. But yet there is no denying the fact that meetings fulfill an important human need. Man is after all a social species. Our race evolved over campfires, and gatherings, hence meetings do play an important role.
Question is when? When are these meetings effective?
Meetings can be effective if certain ground rules are met.Here i have listed a few simple ways – no rocket science – just ensure the basics.
- The decision about who is to attend depends on what you want to accomplish in the meeting. This may seem too obvious to state, but it’s surprising how many meetings occur without the right people there.
- Develop the agenda together with key participants in the meeting. Think of what overall outcome you want from the meeting and what activities need to occur to reach that outcome. In the agenda, state the overall outcome that you want from the meeting.
- Always start on time; this respects those who showed up on time and reminds late-comers that the scheduling is serious.
- Decide on Ground Rules: Four powerful ground rules could be : participate, get focus, maintain momentum and reach closure. You might want to add confidentiality , and any other rules unique to your situation.
- Leave 5-10 minutes at the end to evaluate the meeting. Have each member rank the meeting and let them explain the ranking.
- End meetings on time and on a positive note.