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’Let’s Meet’ Doesn’t Have to be Death Knell for Productivity

| July 26, 2011

by Jim Bruce

Today’s reading is a July 17, 2011 column “’Let’s Meet’ doesn’t have to be death knell for productivity” <> by Boston Globe Columnist, Scott Kirsner.  Kirsner is the author of the book “The Future of Web Video,” editor of “The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England,” and a contributor to “The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston.” 

Grant Freeland, a senior partner at the Boston Consulting Group says “If I had to rate the average meeting in business it would be a C–.”  “There are too many of them.  They don’t have agendas or clear goals.”

So how do you hold meetings that accomplish something, without wasting time.  Kirsner has identified a number of good tactics from his conversations with business leaders:

1.  Focus on the basics.  Start with a goal.  Have an agenda.  Ruthlessly manage time and topics.

2.  Nix the chairs – stand up.  The meeting will be more to the point and shorter.

3.  Start at an odd-time – it cuts down on late arrivals, and makes it easier to start on time.

4.  Limit the size.  Smaller is more effective.  Not everyone who wants to come, needs to be there.

5.  Bring a tennis ball.  With a larger group, having a token that gets passed from speaker to speaker makes it clear who and ONLY who has the floor.

6.  Define the objective.  What’s your desired outcome for each agenda item.  It’s really helpful to note these on the agenda.

7.  Get people off the fence early.  Ask attendees to rank the options early to move discussions along.

8.  Avoid PowerPoint.  While PowerPoint slides can be helpful to set up the issue to be discussed, a seemingly endless stream of dense slides being read is numbing.

9.  Try whiteboards and rapid prototypes.  Use whiteboards when brainstorming, document the ideas (i.e., take and circulate pictures), advance the ideas between meetings to get ready for the next set of discussions.

10.  Make one day meeting-free.  A meeting-free day gives people time to catch up and work on projects.

11.  Change it up.  Not all meetings have to have the same format or venue.

So, take a for look at the meetings you are responsible for and use these ideas to make them more effective.


Have a great summer week.  .  .  .     jim