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?"


Blessed Meeter,

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 meeting.

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.



Read meeting dilemmas solved by the Meeting Guru.




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