In the vast majority of cases, meetings are ineffective because their time lines aren’t adhered to; they’re unstructured; and, the agenda’s unclear.  Worse, action items are undocumented and easily sloughed off after the fact.  Finally, most are just too long.

A few thoughts:

  • Keep meetings focused, have an agenda.
  • Schedule them for as long as you need.  Just because your calendaring tool’s defaults to 60 minute increments, doesn’t mean your meeting needs to be.
  • Use oddball start times. Two reasons:
    • One, people often remember them…because…they’re unusual times.
    • More important, if someone’s been in a prior meeting of 60 or (ugh) 120 minutes, they’re going to need to refresh themselves.  Be kind, be considerate, give them 10 or 15 minutes past the hour before coming to your meeting.  They’re going to do it anyway, so why not save everyone the grief of incessantly late starts?
  • Be flexible. If you don’t need to meet this week, then don’t.

Colleagues know I’m not perfect in running my own meetings.  There’s always room for improvement.  But following even a couple of these ideas may well give you above average performance.

I’d love to hear a few of your own examples, case studies, and the like.  Its a great topic and likely one we can all benefit from thinking about.