Meetings are at the heart of effective organizations. Each meeting is an opportunity to clarify issues, set direction, sharpen focus, create alignment, and move ambitions forward. We have to change the way we think about meetings—the way we design and lead them and, most importantly, how we manage what happens between meetings.
– Paul Axtell
The Five Rules of Efficient Meetings
- Set one objective per meeting. Don’t combine an informational meeting with a status meeting with a work session—know what you want to have accomplished by the end of the meeting.
- Invite no more than 10 attendees. The more people invited, the less each individual contributes, and the greater the temptation to check devices and multitask—thereby defeating the purpose of being in a meeting.
- Elect a facilitator and a recorder for all team meetings. Determine roles to keep the meeting moving and act on decisions afterwards.
- Enforce time discipline. No one likes it when meetings run over—respect everyone’s time by keeping to schedule, if not ending earlier.
- Maintain a central and transparent system of record. While emails are good, ongoing documentation in one central location means that everyone can access needed information, and will help reduce the feeling that they have to attend every meeting in person.
With these rules and frameworks applied, we’ve seen unruly, day-long meetings transform into healthy habits and rituals.