Poor Meetings -
Meetings are Too Long

Meetings are too long? Occasionally a long meeting is necessary to complete important work. Consistently long meetings, however, are a drain on productivity, motivation, and ultimately morale. Much can be accomplished quickly with a well-planned agenda, some focus, and a team determination to keep meetings short.

1. First, discuss with team members how long they want their meetings to last. Then seek consensus on meeting length so that all team members will be committed to achieving it.

2. Have a written goal for each meeting and a clear agenda complete with time allocations for each item. For example:

Meeting Agenda minutes
Goal for our meeting: Agree on the purchase of new software for tracking the team's performance  
a. Review software packages we've analyzed 10
b. Discuss the benefits and drawbacks of the best ones 20
c. Straw vote to see where the interest lies 2
d. Final discussions on individual preferences (politicking for your favorite software package) 10
e. Team consensus on a final selection 15
f. Evaluate our meeting 3
END THE MEETING    (Total Time = 60 minutes)

3. Focus the discussion.  Rambling discussions can destroy meetings. When members get off track, or ramble on endlessly, ask them to "get to the point" so you can move on. Encourage all team members to take responsibility for re-focusing discussions.

4. Park the new topics that pop up.  Frequently in the course of team meetings a new topic will surface that needs to be addressed. Have a flip chart sheet on the wall that says "Parking Lot," and ask the member raising the topic if you could park it temporarily. If it is not an urgent topic, add it to the agenda for the next meeting. This will keep the team from diverting their discussion to the new topic and taking the meeting off course.

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