Chapter 18. Organizing Effective Meetings
Write in your heart that
every day is the best day of the year. ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Up to 25 to 50% of management time is spent in meetings.
These can be face-to-face meetings with one person,
brief meetings in the hallway
or in and out of the office,
or more formal meetings in the office or meeting room.
Unfortunately at least 50% of meeting time is wasted.
Meetings take a lot of time with little value in the long run.
However, meetings are also an important management tool
and need to be used effectively.
Calculate the cost of the meeting
Make sure you have a good reason to call
or attend a meeting.
Treat each meeting as an investment in the business
with the accompanying costs of employee
and leadership time and salaries.
Calculate the total hourly wages of the meeting attendees
that you need to get a return on this investment.
If you have 10 people attending a meeting
and each person earns $50 an hour on average,
then the company bank account will cost $500
for an hourly meeting.
If someone wants to spend $500 on a project
and comes to you for approval,
you’ll want to know what the company will get out of it.
You’ll probably need to think about it
before approving it.
You can even request additional information
and details before you feel comfortable
with allowing an expense of this level.
Treat meetings with such caution.
Avoid unnecessary meetings.
Always question whether this meeting needs to take place.
Whenever a meeting is not necessary,
you must avoid not attending it.
If you don’t personally need to attend the meeting,
If you’re the meeting organizer,
ask yourself who needs to attend the meeting
and invite only those people.
Avoid inviting people who don’t need to be involved just
to make them feel good or important.
Good things happen when you set your priorities straight. ― Scott Caan
Prepare ahead of schedule
Prepare a schedule for every meeting
and always stick to it.
Prioritize the agenda items
and deal with the most important issues first,
just in case you run out of time.
As the meeting chair,
it is your job to keep the discussion on track
and promote the completion of each item
before moving on.
Start and end meetings on time.
If there are people who are often late,
you might consider locking the door a few minutes
after the start time.
Another tactic is to assume
that latecomers won’t attend
and start the meeting right away.
Once the meeting starts,
make sure there are no interruptions during the meeting.
In his best-selling book what got you here won’t get you there,
Marshall Goldsmith says
that one of the biggest flaws in management
is a tendency to overwhelm you dominate
in meetings where subordinates attend.
Because you are the boss,
everyone listens to you.
Gradually, people will get used to saying nothing
or interrupting and letting you say what you want
and for as long as you want.
You may delay,
but time will not. ― Benjamin Franklin
Ask more questions
During the meeting,
act like a wise old owl.
Ask more questions
and listen more attentively as you speak
or contribute to the agenda.
Use the meeting to elicit the best ideas of each attendee,
which is impossible if you talk too much.
The most productive
and successful meetings are the ones
where everyone stands.
You can hold this type of meeting in the office,
no one will be allowed to sit and what needs
to be discussed is discussed quickly
and concisely so everyone can get back to work.
Calling such a meeting is very simple.
You might say,
“To save time
– because I know everyone is busy
– hold a stand-up meeting.
That way we can talk things over
and get back to work faster.”
Because people are often very busy,
you will find that with the right time and place,
this form of meeting will be greatly appreciated by employees.
As Peter Drucker once wrote,
“If more than 25% of management time is spent in meetings,
it is a sign of a weak organization.”
Yesterday is not ours to recover,
but tomorrow is ours to win or lose. ― Lyndon B. Johnson