The best meetings don’t happen by accident. For Al Pittampalli, author of Read This Before Our Next Meeting, the key to worthwhile meetings is to distribute relevant material to participants ahead of time, and hold them accountable for reading the content. This eliminates time-wasting lags during the meeting when the facilitator must stop and “bring up to speed” a laggard.
Pittampalli proposes other strategies to promote speedier, more substantive meetings:
1. Focus on two goals. Many leaders gather employees in a room to make a decision. That’s a mistake, according to Pittampalli.
He urges leaders to hold meetings only after a decision has been made. The group thus focuses on either coordinating action to implement the decision or resolving conflict.
2. Heed the clock. Most facilitators try to stay on track, but side conversations tend to subvert the agenda. Don’t let that happen.
Declare a “hard stop” at the outset of the meeting and stick to it. Start on time and cut off speakers who raise issues that diverge from what’s most relevant.
3. Limit attendance. Everyone who attends must add critical value. If you simply want someone’s input or opinion, get it ahead of time and share it with the group.
4. End with a written action plan. Conclude with a three-column action plan. In each column, write answers to “What action are we committing to?”, “Who is responsible for this action?” and “When will it be completed?”
— Adapted from “Read this before your next meeting,” www.salesandmarketing.com.