Challenge Your Thinking

Take Charge of Your Meeting Time!

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

I was referred to Norman Gauthier in 1997 by my manager who was also a client of his. I had recently taken a challenging new position within a rapidly growing financial services company. In our first meeting I was amazed at how quickly Norm was able to identify certain behaviors and habits that were impeding success in my new role. We met on several occasions afterwards, following up on and tuning my professional development plan. I began to see results almost immediately, and today look back on this as a soul searching experience that helped charge my career for the next decade. I thoroughly enjoyed these meetings as well, and I know that many of my colleagues in the organization were also benefiting from Norm’s coaching.

I highly recommend Norm to organizations and professionals looking to maximize their potential and who are open to change and having an honest look at themselves. Over the last decade I have kept in touch with Norm. Over time I have observed how he is particularly in tune with how The Organization has evolved amid technological and other changes. He is also genuinely interested in my progress and seeing that I’m maintaining my edge. Whenever we get together, I always learn something new that helps me.

Dan Doherty,
Technical Director Software Development

Executive Coaching & Consulting - Boston, MA

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