Not another meeting!

Make your next meeting more productive and less time consuming.

Do you dread meetings that are time-consuming, unproductive, and unnecessary? Does the leader of your workgroup insist on a monthly meeting because ‘that’s what we’ve always done’? Have you been looking for opportunities to liven-up those required meetings? To start, try something unique. There are a number of professional strategies that will create more valuable and efficient meetings.

For instance, hold thirty-minute online meetings. The rule is that the meeting can never last longer than thirty minutes. The agenda is clearly defined and must be kept on track by the leader and/or team participants.

What else can you do? Hold a walking meeting. If there are only two or three people, walk while you meet. The action of physical movement while discussing a problem may stimulate new ideas and solutions, as well as benefit overall health.

Start your meeting at an odd time, such as 8:52 a.m. or 2:17 p.m. It is easier to remember and may ensure punctuality.

Place a kitchen timer on the table to limit topic discussion and be prepared to stick to the limits! Allow for additional time only if the group agrees this is necessary.

Another effective meeting strategy is to hold your meeting standing up. In case there is someone who really does need to sit, have one or two chairs available. Oftentimes with stand-up meetings, only what is important gets discussed and the less important items are assigned to individuals or smaller groups to accomplish before a future meeting.

Hold several short meetings over a period of time, instead of one long meeting. Focus on a specific topic related to the overall goal at each short get together.

If the weather is good, convene all or part of your meeting outdoors. An outdoors meeting can even be combined with a stand-up meeting.

Break down what needs to be done or discussed and separate the participants into smaller groups to accomplish segments of a task or subject area. You may choose to remain seated while you work, or stand while recording on flip charts located throughout the room. Reconvene at an agreed-upon time to review the small group results.

To maintain focus, hold twenty-minute meetings instead of thirty-minute meetings, or fifty-minute meetings instead of sixty-minute meetings.

Finally, to ensure that these short and unusual meeting suggestions are effective, careful preparation is suggested. For more information about planning successful meetings, visit the Michigan State University Extension webpage and search for “meetings”.

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