This post I love! Edited highlights below:
"1 Circulate an agenda – An agenda should show the planned steps that get the meeting from “here” to “there.” It helps the participants prepare appropriately and anticipate the kind of information they might need to produce. It works as a contract: “here’s why this is a great use of your time for n minutes.”
2 Have a theme – Meetings shouldn’t be meandering tours of each participant’s frontal lobe (unless — well — unless that’s the actual agenda). Make it clear why this meeting is happening, why each person is participating at a given time, and then use your agenda to amplify how the theme will be explored or tackled in each section of the meeting.
3 Set (and honor) times for beginning, ending, and breaks – There’s nothing worse than a rudderless meeting that everyone knows will just prattle on until its leader gets tired of hearing himself talk.
4 No electronic grazing. Period. – Laptops closed. Phones off. Blackberries left back in the cube. You’re either at the meeting or you’re not at the meeting, and few things are more distracting or disruptive than the guy who has to check his damned email every five minutes.
5 Schedule guests
6 Be a referee and employ a time-keeper
7 Stay on target Any item that can be resolved between a couple people offline or that does not require the knowledge, consent, or input of the majority of the group should be scotched immediately. Close ratholes. As soon as the needed permission, notification, or task assignment is completed, just move on to the next item.
8 Follow up
9 Be consistent Meetings do not run themselves, and if you have any desire to make best use of valuable people’s time, you’ll need a firm hand and a lot of thoughtful planning."
My favourite part is the sentence about the Blackberries.
10 – carry a big stick
This addition is not as facetious as it sounds. I have a friend who recently took a softball bat to a meeting and held it casually over hsi shoulder whilst he delivered a presentation about the need for everyone to follow a certain protocol within the organisation. He says folks paid attention without him needing to ask them to. And they’re following the new protocol to the letter.
Sounds like a good cure for those Blackberries, too!
(Signed, a Blackberry victim — by no means limited to meetings.)