In my business, meetings are constantly happening. As a developer by nature, I tend to think I am not working when I am in a meeting but the truth is that these meetings are an essential part of the process.
In order to have more effective meetings, I recommend the following:
- Be on time and start the meeting on time. Time is valuable and meeting time is even more valuable, since you are spending that time multiplied by the number of people there.
If you waste fifteen of your own non-meeting minutes, you are wasting fifteen minutes. If you are fifteen minutes late to a meeting, you are wasting 15 minutes times the number of people there. So if there are 10 people in attendance, you have just wasted 2.5 hours.
- Have a mission. Every meeting must have a real reason to happen. Knowing why you are having a meeting and what you expect to get out of it helps to keep you focused on the task at hand.
- End on time. Ending on time shows respect for other people’s schedules and other meetings that may happen elsewhere. Choosing to always end on time pushes you to properly estimate the necessary meeting time, encourages you to keep the conversation on task, and keeps the attendees engaged and focused on the mission, since they know the time is limited.
- Set up ground rules. Ground rule establish that the meeting will be safe place for discussion. The following rules* are a good starting point.
- Be nice, open, and considerate.
- Show mutual respect.
- Actively participate.
- Stay on task.
- Listen to others. Do not interrupt.
- Be free to speak our minds without fear of reprisal.
If you follow these rules, you will find your meetings more satisfying, more focused and more productive. Your attendees will be happier and more ready to involve themselves in the mission at hand.
* I pulled this list from Rusty Divine’s PluralSight course on Requirements Gathering. It closely matches the rules we have been using.