Less Sucky Meetings
October 4, 2011 4:56 AM   Subscribe

Looking for articles, posts, books, and opinions on having effective meetings. I spend half of my day in meetings and I can't help but think that they could be more effective, productive, and less sucky. What do you do or don't do at your organization that leads to better meetings. Do you have any links to articles about great meetings. I was pretty fascinated by this article about how Google holds meetings. Get me out of meeting hell.
posted by jasondigitized to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

This article by 37signals is way too glib and is basically about how evil and toxic meetings are, but it also serves as a general guide as to what annoys a lot of people (including me) about meetings, so it may be helpful in structuring more effective meetings.
posted by xingcat at 5:46 AM on October 4, 2011

(Shoot, how did I totally miss michaelh's first link? I'm sorry.)
posted by xingcat at 5:47 AM on October 4, 2011

One good book on the subject is Death By Meetings, by Patrick Lencioni. I'm not a fan of the parable-style book, which this is, but in the back of the book is an appendix explaining a few different types of meetings and how to make them much more effective (and sometimes briefer). I've used this with a couple of different groups I've managed.

One other piece of practical advice my boss imposed at our previous company was the no-laptop rule (except for 1 note-taker).
posted by simongsmith at 6:15 AM on October 4, 2011

Kick Ass Kickoff Meetings
posted by kirkaracha at 7:12 AM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

I got a lot of benefit out of the Running Effective Meetings episodes of the Manager Tools podcast. (Scroll down until you get to "Running Effective Meetings (3 shows)") Includes a lot of the same stuff as in the Business Insider article, but if you go to the individual episode page, they've got sample agendas & whatnot.

It's been ages since I've looked at the specific pages, but a few things have stuck with me for the occasional meetings that I run:

* Not just an agenda, but an agenda with times and owners.
* Ideally, every agenda item should be completed with a set of follow-up activities, and those activities should be assigned to specific people.
* Start on time as precisely as possible, and don't recap for stragglers. (This particular tip has given me a bit of a reputation at my workplaces...generally a good one.)
* Really start on time; refocus people off of chit-chat. It helps to remind people that the sooner we finish, the sooner everybody can talk about fun stuff. :)

FWIW, I had good luck exposing a previous supervisor to the Manager Tools tips. I'd like to say he ran better meetings after that, although it's been a while, so hard to say now.
posted by epersonae at 1:57 PM on October 4, 2011

To build on / amplify epersonae:

Guidelines for Efficient Moderated Meetings.

In particular, the MODERATOR has to be willing to have teeth (i.e., it's an appointed, ceremonial, impartial role) for things to stay on track.
posted by gregglind at 2:02 PM on October 4, 2011

A couple of things to consider before you try to change-up the meetings:

What's your role in the organization? Is your task to steer the meetings or is that a coworker's job?

Are you willing to take on the role of meeting wrangler and carry that burden?

Is it possible that some people in the organization like to have 'sucky' meetings? Does being in meetings for them mean having to do less actual work?

Are there any food or drinks associated with the meetings that make them more attractive to hang out?

Do people in the meetings spend a lot of time gazing into their laptops, half-listening?

What I'm saying is that in padded cubicles and corner offices; in small businesses and big corporations, there are people that thrive on bullshit meetings and they may not be to keen on some uppity person rocking the boat. Proceed with caution.
posted by quadog at 11:23 PM on October 4, 2011

I liked this article from Fast Company.

And here's a short piece of advice from Seth Godin.
posted by jeri at 6:08 PM on October 15, 2011

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