When should you have a meeting?

people in meetingGetting business done revolves around meetings. But meetings are expensive in both time and money. So if you call a meeting, think about if it’s really necessary to accomplish the work of the business.

Meetings generally have two purposes – sharing information (and getting feedback) or brainstorming. In both cases there needs to be an agenda that clearly states the purpose of the meeting, the desired outcome, where and when it’s going to take place, who are the presenters, and how long each segment is. The person calling the meeting is responsible for having it start and end on time.

My ground rules for meetings are that they are no longer than one hour. And no electronic devices unless necessary for the content of the meeting. Only one person talks – no side conversations – and one person is responsible for taking notes and distributing them to the participants. I also make sure that the next actions are clearly stated before the end of the meeting.

At some companies, meeting rooms have a sign asking the participants to calculate how much that meeting is costing the company. That is a great reminder of the potential for waste in meetings. It’s unlikely that we can get rid of meetings altogether. But being aware of their cost may help people schedule them only when they are really needed.

–Barney Cohen

President, Business 360 Northwest

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