When I start working with a new client one of my first questions I ask is about the culture of meetings within the organization. What I'm looking for is really how much time is being lost or wasted in non-productive meetings. Here are some tips about taking charge of meetings when you are not in charge .
- When you get the meeting agenda or calendar request, let the organizer know that you have a limited window and will need the meeting to start/end by X
- Only accept meeting requests that include an agenda. If you don't get an agenda, ask the meeting organizer, "what is this meeting for? How should I prepare?
- If possible, block 10-15 minutes of time before each meeting so you don't get scheduled back to back. And, use that time to review the agenda items for your meeting and prepare for the discussion so that you can contribute actively.
- When you arrive at the meeting, announce to the meeting organizer that you have to leave at X time (and then leave when you said you would!)
- As the meeting comes to within the last 10 minutes of its stated length, try to encourage a prompt ending by saying, "Since we only have 10 minutes, what agenda items should we focus on in the remaining time?" or "Since we only have 10 more minutes for this meeting, should we schedule another meeting for the remaining items?"
- Be mindful of your own distractions; pay full attention to the meeting rather than multi-tasking. Model the behavior you want to see in your colleagues.
- If you must take a call or respond to an email, apologize and leave the meeting for a moment or let the organizer know that you may be receiving an important call and will leave temporarily to take it. Considering the other participants is a sign of respect.
- Ask the meeting organizer to clarify the use of technology in the meeting and announce the policy to everyone