Site icon Dumb Little Man

8 Ways to Avoid Unproductive Meetings

Have you watched’s hilarious “Donut Jungle” commercial? The one where naïve employees are lured with delicious desserts into attending pointless meetings? The commercial is hilarious because it contains a hint of truth: many meetings, especially in larger organizations, are utterly pointless and devoid of usefulness.

The phenomenon of chronic, pointless meetings is also known as the Dilbert Meeting in some circles. Dilbert Meetings happen every day, wasting people’s time and patience.

Meetings can be quite productive, but most organizers simply don’t take the steps to guarantee that a meeting will be useful. Here are 8 things you can try to help make your meetings more productive:

Don’t hold meetings just because your department always has biweekly meetings; only hold meetings because you need to and because you have a clear plan of what needs to be said and discussed.

Here’s an example of a good goal for a production meeting for a multi-author blog: we’re meeting today to determine the schedule for all blog posts over the next six months. It clearly states what the discussion should work towards and makes the expectations for the meeting clear.

Do you really want to sit through another meeting where you watch your attendees scrawl unintelligible impromptu graphs on the whiteboard instead of giving you the information in a neatly summarized handout beforehand? No? Then tell your attendees to prepare in advance.

There are a number of things you can try to keep your meeting brief (time boxing, limited speaking time, etc…) but the most important thing is to do something to keep it short. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as the attendees and organizers of the meeting make a conscious effort to keep things brief.

Most people record meetings using hand-written outlines, which they often compile into typed notes; others sometimes record the audio of the meeting and use that to produce a written outline after the meeting has concluded. Again, it doesn’t matter what system you use as long as someone records what was discussed and decided during the meeting and distributes those notes to all of the other attendees and interested parties.

Obviously action items must be recorded and distributed along with any notes from the meeting; it’s important that you or one of the other attendees record to whom each action item has been assigned and when each action item is due. This kind of public assignment helps hold the attendees accountable for implementing the decisions rendered during a meeting.

Post-meeting communication is simply another tool to help keep your meeting attendees accountable for implementing the decisions made during the meeting and it also helps eliminate future, unnecessary “progress meetings.”

There are probably millions of other ways to help make meetings more productive, but I think these tips will produce the best return on your investment. If you have any other thoughts on the subject feel free to leave comments below.

Written on 7/09/2008 by Aaron Stannard, editor of Working Smarter.
Exit mobile version