|Dear Meeting Guru,
"My group consistently goes overtime
during our meetings. I've tried everything and can't seem to get
everything covered and wrapped-up in the allotted time. Its frustrating
because I'm wasting too much time in meetings! How can we cover
our agenda items and finish the meeting on time?"
There are several things you can do to help your group stay on track and on
plan your agenda.
Always prepare your agenda beforehand and distribute it to all participants
before the meeting begins. This allows participants adequate time to prepare
and also gives them information about what needs to be accomplished during the
meeting. When you prepare the agenda ask yourself, Am I being realistic
in the amount information we can cover in this amount of time? Perhaps
you are trying to cover too much material.
someone time the meeting.
Using a timer during your meetings can help keep presenters on track and on
time. Give each presenter a one minute warning to let him know his time is almost
over. If this technique seems too obtrusive, there are more subtle methods of
timing during your meetings. Meeting software packages are available that will
time agenda items for you. SMART Meeting Pro, for example, has an automatic
Topic Timer that counts down the allotted time for each agenda item. If the
speaker goes over time, then the Topic Timer turns red and lets him know, in
a more discreet manner, that he's gone over time.
If people start asking questions that are individual concerns or don't directly
apply, make a note to examine these issues after the meeting to see if another
meeting should be held to discuss them. If side issues surface, suggest that
the presenter send an e-mail to address these issues after the meeting, or,
if a particular subject requires special attention, recommend that another meeting
your meeting process.
Evaluating the meeting process helps your group be aware of any unproductive
behaviors. Use the last few minutes of each meeting to evaluate your meeting
process. Ask the group questions such as, What worked well in this meeting?
and What can we do to improve our next meeting? Doing this will set meeting
standards and will also help participants become more aware of what they can
do to improve the meeting process. This is also a way for group members to express
meeting concerns in a polite and delicate manner.
When feeling frustrated by
your meetings, please remember what Confucius once said, "Our greatest
glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." In other
words, don't despair. You will learn from your meeting mistakes and will become
a better meeter because of them.
may good meeting karma always be with you!