Meeting Maxims

So I have this quote in my relevant quotes slideshows:

If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be “meetings.” – Dave Barry

So I got to thinking – what makes a meeting productive? so i have the four maxims on having effective meetings. Very often meetings end up being general discussions, rather than action oriented or goal driven. To avoid that, just try and not be part of the problem, we can’t impact other peoples’ meeting modes, only our own.  So I thought I would put some meeting maxims together.  Let’s just synchronize on maxim:

max·im [mak-sim] –noun
1.  an expression of a general truth or principle, esp. an aphoristic or sententious one: the maxims of La Rochefoucauld.  2.  a principle or rule of conduct.

So here are my  4 meeting maxims:

Manage the meeting: the management of the meeting starts at the invite. Identify attendees that can drive to closure the purpose of a meeting or those that need briefing. During the meeting address the agenda and begin the meeting on time and frame expectations, the situation and the goal of the next N# of minutes.  Provide background material and context in the invite.

A Single Item: Have meetings with a single purpose.  An Update meeting, literally only updating on activities. Have a session on a single decision, not the follow on concepts or tactics. Often meeting drift into next steps, additional topic extensions and general scope creep.  A single topic scenario:

Should we Pursue Project X?

The decision/purpose of the meeting is the pursuit of the project, not the tactics or plan. Don’t meeting creep into what to do on project X, keep it to what you should pursue –  why, who and how is a different meeting.

Stay Topical: Meetings are not a social event, while I know it may make the meeting more interesting, but the water cooler, cube chatter and general hallway drive-by’s should be used for catch up and trivia. If you stay focused, you may get done ahead of time and be able to get back to the business and avoid a time killing event

Have the [tag]Meeting[/tag]:  Bring your opinions, facts and willingness to engage and contribution to the discussion.  Very often meetings, don’t really happen.  I mean everyone shows up, or you start late or you go off topic and ultimately you need another meeting, on the same topic.   Have the meeting also means, don’t have a meeting after the meeting about how much the previous meeting didn’t meet expectations or express exceptions not voiced during the meeting.  Best to just have the meeting once.

So this is how I look at driving productivity from a meeting, just an idea.

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1 Comment

  • Reply geostuff February 9, 2009 at 6:43 am

    #meetings #dilbert

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