Dear Meeting Guru,

How can we measure the value of a meeting? We can measure whether the participants are satisfied, but how do we track the results? For example, suppose we had a mandate to decrease the time spent in meetings by 50%. We could measure and put a value on the time saved, but how about peoples' lack of motivation to implement decisions that were not fully discussed – how do we measure the cost of that? Do you know of any studies which measure the consequences of poor (i.e., rushed) decisions?

Anonymous

Blessed Meeter,

It sounds to me like you've forgotten the fundamental purpose of meeting in the first place. You should be conducting meetings to share information and collaborate on projects. What's important is the quality of work and the decisions generated from the meeting, not the time taken to meet. Of course, we generally recommend having shorter meetings, but that's simply because most meetings drag on unnecessarily. If you're in a meeting and everyone is working hard and generating great ideas, you're being productive – and that's the whole point.

You're obviously trying to eliminate unproductive meetings, which is great. But don't sacrifice the quality of the meeting, just so you can reach your mandate of halving the time of all meetings. What I would suggest is to schedule meetings for the amount of time in which you think a decision could be reached. If everyone is still working productively when time is up, ask the group if they'd prefer to keep going or book a second meeting. Often people have other commitments, need a break or have other work to catch up on. In these instances, a second meeting is best. However, if ideas are flowing and participants have the time, it's best to keep the momentum going and continue the meeting.

I hope this perspective helps. For some general information on the state of meetings today, read www.effectivemeetings.com/meetingbasics/meetstate.asp. It sounds like your organization has their meetings under control, but if anyone needs a refresher course, basic meeting training is available at www.effectivemeetings.com/meetingbasics/training.asp. If lengthy meetings are a problem, here are 10+ tips for starting and finishing your meetings on time: www.effectivemeetings.com/meetingplanning/agenda/meetontime.asp.

I really admire your desire to improve your meetings. Remember, there's a lot of information out there, so keep studying and learning. As the wise philosopher Confucius once said, "Reviewing what you have learned and learning anew, you are fit to be a teacher."

Until next time… may good meeting karma always be with you.

 

 


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