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Is it possible to make meetings more productive?

Where do the days go? Scroll through your calendar and you might findthat mammoth chunks of your nine-to-five are swallowed up by thecorporate conference room, the conversation vortex where clocks meltand time slithers at the speed of a PowerPoint presentation.

Where do the days go? Scroll through your calendar and you might find that mammoth chunks of your nine-to-five are swallowed up by the corporate conference room, the conversation vortex where clocks melt and time slithers at the speed of a PowerPoint presentation.


More than a third of Americans recently polled consider meetings to be “a complete waste of time,” according to a survey by California’s Meeting Solutions, and you need not convene a roundtable to brainstorm why.


“If you’re taking an hour-and-a-half to hold your meetings, then multiply that by 10 people in the room,” executive coach Barbara Frankel says. “That’s a great deal of time.”


Career gurus note that meeting management is fundamental to office leadership — for executives, “it’s one of the key skills,” notes Dare Kurow, executive advisor.


Plus, if you play the clock right, you can salvage some semblance of efficiency from the ritual. Start with the pre-planned strategy of not handing the conversation steering wheel to the diversion artists, brag-a-holics, and perpetual fault-finders who passive-aggressively sabotage the docket by subject-swapping, Frankel warns.


Focusing on post-meeting “action items,” she says, can keep heads from tilting towards the table. “Define what the goal is and the action that’s going to be taken,” she says. “Then define who’s going to do it and what resources they need.”


“The worse thing you can do is go in there and wing it,” Kurow says. A pre-conference mass e-mail, she offers, can not only announce the agenda, but can fish out new ideas.


“Ask employees to bring at least one creative suggestion to the meeting,” she says.


Frankel concurs, and adds that recruiting reticent colleagues into the huddle is the mark of impressive management. “If you’re not enlisting and engaging everybody then people are checking out,” she says.

 
 
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