Some companies are overly reliant on meetings and this leads
some people to believe that all meetings are a waste of time. Of course, it’s
true that not all meetings are a good use of time, but certainly they are not
all a waste of time either.

Meetings have their place. Formal meetings are a way to get
the right people in the same place at the same time. A well-run meeting can get
the right people together to make decisions or to discuss some item of common

On the other hand, poorly run or unnecessary meetings can
also be a major time waster. So, before you schedule a meeting and ask people
to make the time commitment, do everything you can to make the meeting as
effective as possible. Consider the following meeting best practices.

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  • In
    general, all meetings should have an agenda. The creation of the agenda
    takes a little extra work, but they are a way to give structure to the
    meeting to make sure that the time is well spent and that your meeting
    objectives are met. (Regularly scheduled meetings do not need a published
    agenda every week. The formal agenda is of value while the team is first
    meeting, but then you just follow the format in subsequent meetings.)
  • After
    you create an agenda, follow the agenda and watch the time to make sure
    everything gets covered.
  • There
    should be a meeting facilitator. This is usually the person who requested
    the meeting unless other arrangements have been made. For ongoing status
    meetings, the facilitator is usually the project manager, but the
    facilitator role can be rotated.
  • Make
    sure the participants know ahead of time of anything they need to bring to
    the meeting or any advance preparation that needs to take place. If people
    are unprepared, they will not be as effective as they need to be.
  • Only
    invite the people that need to be there. Others may dilute the
    effectiveness of the meeting, plus people become jaded if they are invited
    to meetings when they don’t need to be there.
  • The
    meeting should start on time, with some allowance for those that may be
    coming from another meeting.
  • The
    person who requested the meeting should explain the purpose and the
    expected outcome.
  • Someone
    should document any action items assigned during the meeting. This will be
    the facilitator or originator unless other arrangements have been made.
    Recap all outstanding action items toward the end of the meeting,
    including who is responsible, what is expected, and when the action item
    is due.

Meetings can be more than a necessary evil. Well-run
meetings can be a very effective use of the attendee’s time. Don’t settle for
anything less!