Productivity Tip – Set Meeting's Agenda – And Stick to It

The first step in turning meetings from huge time wasters into something even approaching productivity is having an agenda for every meeting.

Just writing the agenda is an improvement, you can't write an agenda for a meeting about nothing and sometimes, it may be obvious from the agenda that the meeting is unnecessary.

There are just four simple rules to follow:

  • Every meeting MUST have an agenda.
    To say that it's ok for some meeting to not have an agenda is the same as saying it's ok for some meeting to be a giant waste of time.
  • If it's not on the agenda you don't talk about it.
    If you are going to talk about things not on the agenda why bother writing it in the first place, it's perfectly acceptable to schedule a new meeting (with its own agenda, obviously) if you discover new thing to talk about.
  • The agenda must be sent to all people invited to the meeting in advance.
    Don't skip this point, this is where the real productivity gain is – if people know exactly what the meeting is about they can prepare for the meeting (less wasted time during the meeting) or not come at all.
  • The agenda should be clear and to the point.
    If the agenda has text that sound like "promote principle-centered information in order to solve business problems" then it's time to quit or fire someone depending on your position in the company (text from the excellent Dilbert mission statement generator)

If you follow those simple rules you'll have less meetings – because people will have to actually think before calling a meeting and because you won't have to attend every meeting in the company out of fear they are going to say something related to your project in a totally unrelated meeting.

And the meetings will be shorter because they can't just go on forever moving from subject to subject – when you finish discussing the items in the agenda the meeting is over.

posted @ Wednesday, March 5, 2008 4:22 PM

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