There is a funny scene from a YouTube video called” Meetings bloody Meetings”  where the husband and wife are in bed and he is busy working on some papers.  His wife asks why he is doing work now instead of when he is at work and he declares, ” There isn’t time – I have to go to meetings”

Most of us have been subjected to meetings that go longer that expected and/or seem to waste our time, leaving us scrambling to catch up on our “real” work.    If you are leading meetings, you probably want to fulfill clear objectives, gain positive participation, stay on time and create positive action after the meeting.   However, this can often prove to be challenging in a number of ways.  Conducting meetings is both an art and a science with a mix of process management and human relations skills.

Here are the top 7 causes of ineffective meetings and a few ideas to help with them. 

Unclear objectives – Make sure that you are very clear on what you want to accomplish and that others are committed to the objectives

Unclear agenda – Lay out clear timelines, including breaks. Make sure that you consult with any presenters beforehand to confirm their time requirements. Send the agenda in advance to all participants

Poor Preparation – Summarize and send all materials that need to be read at least 48 hours in advance.  Make sure that you are also prepared 

Wrong people at the meeting – Make sure that anyone required to make critical decisions on objectives  is at the meeting

Poor facilitation – Keep people on track and on time, encourage participation, manage conflict.   A best practice is to have someone else do the timekeeping and announce when the time is almost over for a topic.   People will only speak up and participate if they trust the others in the room, so make sure that you spend some time on building trust if you think that might be an issue.   Another way to encourage participation is to have others presenting parts of the agenda.   Conflict management can require specific skills.  Sometimes it makes sense to hire an outside facilitator for important meetings, especially if the chairperson also needs to participate a great deal.

Poor commitment and accountability – Make sure that clear action plans are determined where people are committed to specific action to move forward. 

Poor documentation and follow-up – Make sure that concise meeting minutes are sent out within 48 hours and clear action plans are included that outline what, when and who.  Have a plan of follow-up to ensure the action plans are accomplished.

For more tips on meetings, check out this website


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