Thursday, June 3, 2010

Meetings - Active Participation and Tangible Results

A colleague mentioned in an email that meetings are the bane of his existence. I’m sure many of us agree with him, so I thought I’d share some tips I’ve come across for ensuring that the time we spend in meetings is worthwhile.

The Three-Purpose Meeting Rule
In The Key to Shorter, Better Meetings, Anthony K. Tjan recommends an action-oriented agenda that focuses on what you expect from meeting participants: “Consider a meeting that sets its agenda goals along the lines of: ‘I want to bring you up to speed on these two things; I need input on this item; and finally I would like to seek your approval on these outstanding issues.’”

Stealth Meeting Facilitation
Melissa Raffoni has written a great article on Stealth Meeting Facilitation for the Rank-and-File to help participants fix the meeting from hell:

If the conversation becomes really muddled, Raffoni suggests playing dumb and asking for an explanation. But the trick is to specifically address your request to the person in the room who is the clearest thinker and communicator, giving them a chance to get the group back on track.

Another valuable question to ask is, “Who is responsible for this decision?” If they’re in the room, ask if they’re prepared to make a decision right away. Or, if the right person isn’t in the room, go get them or arrange to meet with them.

Or you can offer to take notes that are immediately projected for everyone to see. Now you’re in a position to help move the team forward by framing the discussion in terms of Problem, Objectives, Action Items, Next Steps, etc..

Some Off-the-Wall Options
Google has a giant timer on the meeting room wall that counts down the time remaining for a particular topic or the meeting as a whole. Other groups meet standing up, which is sure to curtail long-winded discussions. (BusinessWeek).

What has worked for you?

Image courtesy of 37 Signals

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