Meetings are the workplace experience we love to hate: For example, in one study, 71% of senior managers said meetings are unproductive and inefficient and 65% said meetings keep them from completing their own work. 

So what if I told you that there's a simple way to make every meeting more productive--and the method only takes seven minutes? 

You're intrigued, right? Here goes. 

You'll start at the beginning of every meeting, where you'll take two minutes to ask this question: "What is the one thing we need this meeting to accomplish?" and allow participants to provide answers.

This, of course, is another way of determining outcomes or objectives. Here's another way of stating it: "What does success look like?"

Only by articulating a desired end state can you work together to create success. In fact, once you know what the outcome should be, you're much more likely to focus on what matters and put aside stuff that isn't going to accomplish your objective. 

Notice that the question is about one thing, not seven. Too many ragtag pieces just create clutter. As my Tennessee grandmother used to say, "It's like trying to stuff 10 pounds of potatoes in a five-pound sack." The result is a lumpy mess.

Stick to one beautiful objective. And once you've got it, improve your meeting by focusing on this outcome. 

Here's the second component of this improve-your-meeting method. Pay attention to the end.

As Bruce Katcher writes in the book 30 Reasons Employees Hate Their Managers, "Too often, people leave meetings before they have come to their natural conclusion. (Typically, everyone is running off to attend another nonproductive meeting.)"

Instead of letting your meeting come to a messy end, stop the discussion with five minutes remaining until the scheduled end. Say, "It's time we wrapped this up" and take Katcher's advice to "discuss next steps, including deciding who is responsible for doing what and what is the deadline for each activity."

So: By spending two minutes at the beginning creating focus and five minutes at the end agreeing on next steps, you've made your meeting more purposeful and productive. 

Give it a try. Have a great meeting!

Published on: Apr 7, 2019
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