A leader with clear purpose conveys meaning with little confusion or wasted energy. A gathering with a clear purpose focuses the attention and energy of participants towards a measurable outcome.
Action Items are Dead
- Action items are the equivalent of homework assignments. Most business meetings aren't for kids in grade school, they're for adults trying to coordinate their efforts. If you need a to do list, I'm sure you can work that out by email without wasting everyone else's time.
Collaboration is best One to One
- Collaboration isn't a spray and pray, bolted on result of meetings. It's the result of one person communicating with another about what they're working on and what they want to accomplish. It can start with a question, and maybe a few people can get together to hash out the details. But there's no reason to force a conference room full of folks to get together for X hours.
Only Communicating in Meetings
- This is the biggest problems with official meetings. Hard working folks are trained to believe they should only communicate within very specific guidelines. Their ideas and contributions are regulated into power point slides. Coworkers should be communicating on a regular basis without an official agenda
What's the Purpose
- Why does this meeting absolutely have to take place? Keep that focus throughout the meeting and relentlessly table any off topic discussions which detract from that topic.
Minimize the Time
- Set a meeting end time and stick to it. Don't be afraid to cut the meeting early. It's common for smaller groups to break up for specialized discussions after a larger gathering.
Interrupt Long Winded Speakers
- Certain folks can't help but dominate a meeting verbally. If your meeting involves getting input from several people it's clear that you have to cut off those who take more than an allotted time to convey their ideas.
Critically Examine Results
- Did the meeting meet it's intended purpose and focused goal? What aspects of the meeting can be measured as direct consequences of the gathering?
- Was the meeting helpful to each member in achieving their own groups goals? This can be done painlessly by email offline in just a few words. Any measured evidence is helpful at pointing to value added from a meeting
Did the Meeting Lead to More Meetings?
- This is the kiss of death for any meeting, one that begets more meetings. There's a steep descent into bureaucratic hell and it's paved in the good intentions of meetings. Don't let this slippery slope consume your organization.