Need a New Year's Resolution? Run Better Meetings. Here are some tips.

Could meetings in your workplace be material for writers of The Office?  Do they jump from topic to topic with no real agenda, start to late and/or run too long, have no conclusions or decisions and encourage distracting side conversations? If so, what about setting an office-wide New Year’s resolution to make some changes this year?

Whether you work for a small start-up or a multi-national corporation, here are some ideas to help get your resolution started:

  • “Every meeting should have a clear decision-maker, and if it doesn't, the meeting shouldn't happen.”
  • Set a clear agenda. Nearly every article I read to put together this list references setting an agenda. Doing so should help to keep everyone on track and assign responsibility for action items.
  • Leave meetings with clear next steps or action items.
  • Seriously consider who to invite to the meeting. Google suggests no more than 10 people at the meeting stating, “attending meetings isn’t a badge of honor.”  –
  • Encourage creativity and discourage negativity. “The answer is always ‘yes, and…’ and never ‘no, but…’ in a brainstorming meeting. Debbie Downer and Mr. No aren’t invited. NO has no place at the table. Ever.”  -Brad Lomenick, Catalyst
  • Question whether an email or voicemail would have the same effect as a meeting. If so, consider making use of those alternatives. Measure Meetings with Action
  • Consider stand-up meetings to encourage quick discussion. Robert Sutton, professor of management at Stanford School of Engineering and author of Good Boss, Bad Boss writes about his experience with stand-up meetings on his blog. One blog comment on his blog mentioned a solution to too much talking. When meetings would go long due to people who talked too long, a project manager brought in a large bowling ball. When speaking, the bowling ball had to be held.
  • Effective organizations constantly tweak processes to improve. Don’t be afraid to change your meeting culture, if it leads to more productivity.

These suggestions and more are discussed in many online resources including:

What are your best suggestions for effective meetings? Let us know in the comments.