Productive Meeting–DO’s and DONT February 8th, 2012

Vinod Kumar

As part of our work, meetings seem to have become an integral way we perform our job. But it is critical to understand the importance of doing meetings on the first place. Have you got a bubble in a middle of a meeting –“Why on earth am I out here?”. In mature organizations, the problem is in the fact you have weekly status meeting, project meeting, Quarterly meeting, monthly meetings, business update meetings and so on. Trust me, more than half of it can be of no significance to you as an individual. Knowing the state of business is critical, but knowing your role and contributing to the business is also critical. Let me take a stab at some of the do’s and don’t when it comes to meetings based on my experience.

Take care of the minutes and the hours will take care of themselves.

Prepare, else prepare to fail

It is a common phrase that if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. And meetings are no exception. If you are calling for a meeting, make sure you have a proper plan to execute and talk with the members. It has to be clear, concise and the give-gets properly outlined. Walking into a meeting with no plan could make you appear disorganized and uninterested in the topics of discussion. And, your teammates will feel like you don’t value their time.

At the same time, be flexible to constructive and productive ideas that might hijack the meeting. Keeping a closed door to the meeting structure can sometimes restrict creativity and stop people from opening up. Sometimes go with the flow, people do know when it is zero plan unorganized method versus a spontaneous discussion session. Irrespective of the style, know the limits and time constraints as part of the discussion.

People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything. – Thomas Sowell

Focus and don’t get distracted

When I started working in the industry more than a decade back, this was not the case. But this tip is more relevant for the current generation who have tons of choices to get distracted. Answering a phone call, emailing or text messaging have become a way to get distracted easily. These are clear signs of disinterests and can be really frustrating for the meeting organizers.

I personally like to silent my phone before and during the meetings. I even refrain from picking them up till the meeting gets over. There is always choice and most importantly someone has taken time to share something with you, give them the time and attention that they need.

If there is burning issue and you are expecting a call, just inform the organizer of the same well before hand and walk out to attend the call so that the meeting does not get distracted because of the phone ringing at your end.

A meeting is an event where minutes are taken and hours wasted. – James T. Kirk

Some more non-negotiable

  1. Honor time of others, be there on time. Those in the meeting will be appreciative that you respect their time and, will in turn, respect what you have to say. Sometimes running a few minutes over is unavoidable, but consistently keeping your audience waiting is disrespectful of their time.
  2. Avoid offending anyone during the meeting. Don’t get into a conversation just with one person but try to get a gauge of the situation and address all the audience.
  3. Avoid eating during meetings, it most of the times distracts and annoying too. If you keep munching a packet of chips during the meeting, it will surely annoy the person sitting next to you. Unless this is a breakfast or dinner business meetings where eating is encourages during the talk – my suggestion refrain. It is not for you, but to respect the person next to you :).
  4. Learn how to run a meeting. There is a subtle difference between running a meeting and throwing a party. Engage with people and get opinion from all to get to an common consensus. This is critical.
  5. Take notes during the meeting and follow up post the meeting. This is critical because you want a proper closure to the activities and make people aware of what they need to do post the meeting. Assign action items at each meeting (who commits to do what and by when) and do so in writing.
  6. Before any meeting, communicate your own thoughts in e-mails and casual conversations. If you see to many emails floating, call for a meeting and keep announcements brief and crisp – discuss and then close the activity.
  7. Meeting organizers sometimes feel they are inspiring and know everything, the fact remains completely opposite to what reality is. So be critical about the whole meeting process and design a meeting where the attendees get an opportunity to contribute too.
  8. Look for signs of agreement – seeing nods, smiles and eye contact does measure some acceptance. If people think you are upset, they might just accept and agree to what ever you say. This is a bad sign because post the meeting, they forget the meeting, ignore the messages discussed and more alarming – ignore the idea shared.
  9. Don’t be a slave of the meeting duration. If the meeting gets over in 25 minutes, give back the rest of the time.  Don’t waste time as it would be demotivating.
  10. Avoid death by Powerpoint – get the message, discussion points and closure in simple steps.

Meetings are everyday activity for many of you who are reading this article. I just wanted to air some of the facts and things that I personally felt were important and non-negotiable. Hope these made sense and do drop in a line if you had more additions.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 8th, 2012 at 11:37 and is filed under Personal, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “Productive Meeting–DO’s and DONT”

  1. Krishna Prabhu says:

    Nice article sir. I have learning lot of things from your articles.Thanks for writing in sir.

  2. As usual,,learning new from u…

  3. Hi Vinod,

    Thanks for writing this useful article.Enjoyed it. :)


  4. Pinal Dave says:

    I hear you fair and square – Avoid death by Powerpoint

    Very true. I often tell presenter to avoid PPT or limit PPT. PPTs are great but overusing them is meaningless. Always have more slides than you have – as you never know when needed but do not insist on going over every slide you ever made.

    Great blog post.

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