No Agenda = No Meeting

Seth Godin recently distilled a great list about getting serious about your meeting problem. It highlights the problem that many people in companies face: being in meetings all day. If you’ve wondered when the work gets done, for some people the answer is that they have forgotten what work involves. The day is taken up with meetings, e-mail and travel arrangements (to other meetings, of course!).

7. The organizer of the meeting is required to send a short email summary, with action items, to every attendee within ten minutes of the end of the meeting.

I admit I find this one draconian, although the sooner the better is always the rule with meetings. Here, the trick is to schedule time for the minutes, so that someone else doesn’t grab the time for your participation in another meeting. In addition, my experience shows that it’s important to include all decisions in the minutes: so, minutes and actions. That’s enough.

The list seems to be based on the predicate that people know what the meeting is about. I have often experienced meetings where the chair began by asking the participants what was on today’s agenda. (No, they weren’t using an Open Space format!). It’s a waste of time and energy.  Simple rule to add to Seth’s list:

No Agenda = No Meeting

This ensures that people can focus on the topics, do some thinking ahead of time. It’s more than

3. Require preparation. Give people things to read or do before the meeting, and if they don’t, kick them out.

To sharpen this one a bit, make it clear to the people in advance, which decisions will be on the table at the meeting. It gives them a chance to contribute better to the decision-making.

How have you improved the quality of your meetings at work?

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