Resurrecting the Meeting

We’ve all been there: a stuffy conference room, a droning speaker, co-workers furtively checking emails. Ah, meetings—the top office time waster, according to surveys by Salary.com. Why are they so often so bad?

“It’s easy for people who are in charge to convince themselves that their meetings are okay,” says Erika Andersen, founder of management consulting firm Proteus International and author of Leading So People Will Follow. “Even if their meetings are awful, their folks don’t tell them, so they keep happening.”

Andersen suggests making a habit of these simple—but underused—strategies to make your meetings better.

1 Make sure that the purpose of the meeting is clear. The organizer should be able to say, “We’re having this meeting in order to do X, Y, or Z.”

2 Invite the right people. Include only those workers essential to the topics being discussed. Don’t invite three people from a department when one could come and represent all three.

3 Create a good agenda and use it. Andersen recommends a format she calls TTOG: Topic, Time, Owner, and Goal. What will be talked about, how long the group will spend on it, who will be responsible for follow-up afterward, and—most important—why the topic is being included. This helps ensure that everyone has the same expectations and works together to meet the goal.

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