|Dear Meeting Guru,
"Our team has been assigned a major
project late in the game so we’re starting out behind. There
is a definite deadline and everyone is pushed to the limit trying
to catch up and accomplish the task. How can we have effective meetings
when there seems to be no time to prepare or follow up?"
Although making time for effective meetings may sound like the
last thing you should do in a time crunch – think again. Without the support
of meetings that result in clear plans for what team members should be working
on, you could end up with mass confusion and a missed deadline.
To avoid being bogged down with questions, mix-ups and errors, hold quick meetings
that provide everyone with a clear and detailed plan. These meetings don’t
have to take a lot of time and by taking this approach you’ll have a better
chance of completing your project by your deadline.
Ask everyone to prepare a different part of the meeting, so no one person is
stuck doing everything. For follow-up, ask people to send you updates of their
progress on the goals assigned in meetings. Make these updates mandatory, and
share them through e-mail with everyone on your team rather than holding another
Prepare agendas and stick to them! Only discuss topics that are essential to
moving on to the next phase of the project. Politely but firmly interrupt people
immediately when they get off topic and bring the conversation back to what
needs to be accomplished.
Put a time limit in your meetings and end them when the time is up –
don’t let them carry over. The meetings can be as short as 10–15
minutes, just enough time to cover what everyone needs to do in order to complete
the next phase of the project. By not allowing extra time, you encourage everyone
to stay on topic.
Another time-saving trick is to have someone record the meeting with a tape
or mini-disk recorder rather than assigning someone to write minutes, which
usually have to be rewritten or typed up to be clear. Make a couple of copies
of the recording so they are available when someone needs them.
As U.S. author Charles Buxton once said, “You
will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it.”
By making time for these essential meetings, you’ll keep your project
on track and have a better chance of meeting your deadline.
Until next time
may good meeting karma always be with you.