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Fourteen Tips for Runninga Good Meeting. Meetings come in all shapes and sizes, so not all of these strategies will be useful, but here are some things I try to remember when I’m in or running a meeting.
1. Very obvious: Start on timeand end on time.Once people see that meetings are starting late, the bad habit builds, because people see there’s no point in showing up promptly. If the meeting has to run long, ask if everyone can stay fifteen extra minutes to wrap up? That way, people know that the end is in sight.
2. At the same time, remember that it’s helpful tospend a little time in chit-chat. People need to build friendships, they need a chance to Show their personalities, they need to establish rapport. Meetings are very important for this process.
3. If some people hesitate to jump in,find a way to draw them out. Ability to grab the floor doesn’t necessarily correlate with capacity to contribute.
4. One of the most insightful things my father ever toldme was, “If you’re willing to take the blame,people will give you the responsibility.” Meetings often involve blame-giving and blame-taking, and although it’s not pleasant to accept blame, it’s a necessary aspect of getting responsibility (if deserved, of course).
5. Share the credit.Along with blame, a meeting is also a great place to give people credit for their ideas and accomplishments. Be quick to point out great work or to call for a round of applause for a colleague. (Gold star junkie that I am, I payclose attention in this area.)
6. Making people feel stupid isn’t productive, and it isn’t kind. A friend has a good suggestion: “Be cheerfully, impersonally decisive.”
If possible, circulate the agenda in advance, along with anything else that needs to be read to prepare for the meeting. Make sure people know if they should bring anything. Along the same lines… HAVE AN AND STICK TO IT. 7. HAVE AN AND STICK TO IT.
8. Never go to a meeting if you don’t know whyyou’re supposedto be there! This seems obvious, but it’s a situation that arises surprisingly frequently.
9. Standing meetings should be kept as shortas possible and very structured. Have rules for canceling the meeting when appropriate – if such-and-such doesn’t happen; if only a certain number of people can attend, etc.
10. Don’t say things that will undermine or antagonize other people.Turns out they do in fact notice this, and they don’t appreciate it. If you wonder if you’re an offender, check yourself against this list.
11. Be very specific about what the “action items” are (to use the business-school term). Who is agreeing to do what, by when? Make sure someone is keeping track of what is supposed to happen as a consequence of the meeting, and at the meeting’s end, review these items so it’s crystal clear to everyone. Follow up by email.
12. If a meeting is long, schedule breaks when peoplecan check their email and phones. Otherwise, they get very distracted by feeling they’ve been out of touch for too long (for some people, this takes about ten minutes), and they start sneakily emailing under the table. As if no one will notice. Which they do.
13. Meetings should stay tightly focused.If people want a chance to discuss side issues, theoretical problems, or philosophical questions that aren’t relevant to the purpose of the meeting, they should set up a separate meeting.
14. Here’s a radical solution: no chairs. In Bob Sutton’s terrific book, The No A**** Rule, he points to a study that showed that people in meetingswhere everyone stood took 34% less time to make an assigneddecision, with decisions that were just asgood as those made by groups who were sitting down.
16 Learn more tips for a happier life at GretchenRubin.com