Present and Accounted For

“We have people in so many meetings, they don’t have time for anything else.”

I hear statements like this from managers (typically while sitting in a meeting with them). I seem to hear it more often lately. Meetings are a necessity of business today, and can be a productive use of time. But without structure or guidelines, they can become unmanageable and begin to syphon time and focus from critical tasks and activities.

Here are two cues for whether your meetings are adding as much value as possible.

  1. Are people PRESENT?
    When you look around the room, are attendees engulfed in their laptops, scanning their smart phones or even staring out a window (presumably thinking “Dear God, let me escape to what is out there!”)? Is the conversation on-topic, or does it seem to meander? Is there any energy in the room, or is everyone just doing time? Just because people attend a meeting, doesn’t mean they were present.Having some guidelines to conducting a meeting can be helpful. Michael Hyatt has a nice list of 9 Rules, and there are several other examples out there. Getting agreement on how your group or organization conducts meetings is important, and taking a quick moment to review those guidelines at the start of a meeting can go a long ways.
  2. Are people ACCOUNTED FOR?
    Do people know why they’re in a given meeting? Do attendees understand why anyone else is in the room? For projects and teams, a RACI chart can help identify who needs to attend particular meetings and who could be simply informed of what decisions are made (which emphasizes the need to capture notes and action items). By identifying why individuals attend a meeting or not, you can free up some people’s time while making the meeting itself more effective (and possibly shorter – yay!).

There are many other tips for facilitating good meetings, but checking whether your people are Present and Accounted For is a good start to having a healthier, collaborative and productive work environment.

Dustin Staiger is a business and marketing coach in Houston, TX. He addresses team and individual effectiveness, marketing, communications and creativity for smaller, entrepreneurial organizations as well as large enterprises.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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4 thoughts on “Present and Accounted For

  1. FYI, I followed all those links and will be reviewing them in detail next week. Since I’m leading a lot more meetings now this is going to be very useful.

  2. Paul, I hope these help. There’s tons more out there if you do a Google search. I think one of the most important rules is deciding whether or not a meeting is necessary. If the purpose of the meeting is simply a monologue by the facilitator, a memo may be more appropriate. Good luck!

  3. i’ve come back and looked at this a couple of times. The links are helpful. You should write your own meeting tips, or if you already have, provide a link.

  4. Thanks Paul. I don’t have a post specifically addressing meeting tips, but I’m developing an ebook idea around this topic.