In the quest for an effective meeting, here are some substances that we think should be banned from the boardroom.

Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs)
While I'm not advocating a total ban, I do think PDAs should be a controlled substance in the meeting room. If someone is using a PDA to contribute to the meeting – to download meeting notes, schedule follow-up sessions or swap contact information – great. But all too often, PDAs get the most mileage when a bored participant decides to amuse himself by e-mailing friends or composing a weekly grocery list. If this is the case, it's time to ban PDAs and make your meeting more interesting.

Cell Phones
While cell phones were something of a status symbol in the '80s, we're way past that now. Turn your phone off whenever you're in a meeting – if a call is that important, you shouldn't be in the meeting.

PowerPoint
I've said it before and I'll say it again – PowerPoint is a great tool for formal presentations. But it's an unnecessary time-waster if you're simply giving your colleagues a quick update on a project. While you may experience some initial resistance to a PowerPoint ban in your weekly meeting, everyone will thank you when they're able to leave 15 minutes early.

Coffee and Doughnuts
While a total ban on coffee and doughnuts in the meeting room would be akin to banning shoes in the 100 m sprint, these tempting morsels should be classified as a controlled substance. The problem with coffee and doughnuts is that participants will subconsciously prolong the meeting until the coffee pot is empty and the last Boston Cream is a distant memory. If you simply must have refreshments to endure a meeting, limit the snacks to one per person and distribute them at the start of the meeting.

Meeting Groupies
Uninvited guests frequently turn up at meetings. The same people who proudly assert their hatred of meetings will voluntarily attend meetings that are completely unrelated to their jobs. And as any seasoned meeting planner knows, the more people in attendance, the harder it is to accomplish anything. If your meetings are plagued by additional attendees, announce the meeting strictly to those people whose presence is required. If meeting groupies persevere, politely but firmly tell them that they're not required at this meeting.

Unnecessary Technology
Technology is a great way to improve productivity, but too many people abuse it in the meeting room. For example, if you know what Bill in accounting looks like, there's no need to schedule a videoconference – a conference call or data conference will be just as effective.

Remember, if you really want players to adhere to the rules, you'll have to enforce them. If a participant breaks one of these bans, make her record the minutes at the next meeting.

1. Source: www.uselessknowledge.com

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