Make the most of meetings

Every workplace seem to have a certain fondness for mettings, and some organizations seems to have so many meetings that they hardly have time to mind their business. There are a few tricks, which can help you make the most of meetings – or at least lessen the pain.

If you’re invited to a meeting…

As a general rule expect at least two days notice before any meeting with more than 3 participants. Meetings arranged with a tighter deadline (unless some current event is the cause) are too often a joint coffee break than a meeting.

Always ask for an agenda no later than the day before the meeting. Without agendas meetings rarely have a point. As a participant you have a reasonable expectation to have an agenda before the meeting, so you know what decisions are supposed to be made.

Make sure that all materials expected to be discussed at the meeting is available in reasonable time before the meeting. Joint reading sessions aren’t efficient and when “reading” at a meeting, most people tend to skim rather than actually read the contents.

If in doubt ask why you where invited to a meeting. What are you stake in the decisions – do you even have one? While it may be reasonable to gather all participants in a project during kick-off and wrap-up, you probably don’t need every one at every meeting throughout the project.

Keep your attention in the meeting. Turn off your mobile phone and unplug the network connection(s) at the meeting. Network usage is only acceptable, if the meeting requires connection. If half your meeting participants have time to check email, text messages and communicate to others outside the meeting, you’re probably wasting each other’s time and should end the meeting.