Meeting after meeting – some are productive, while so many others are not. Most attendees tend to blame the leader or facilitator. Sometimes, however, the effectiveness of a meeting not only rests with the group leader, but the attendees as well. If you have ever attended an unproductive meeting, have you ever thought about what you could do to make it more productive? Here are some actions you can take to make sure you are not wasting your time.
Get there on time so the meeting can start on time. The invite did not say, “we are going to get started around 2:00ish.” The organizer provided a specific time. Get there on time so the meeting can start and hopefully end on time. It’s a matter of respect and consideration for the other attendees. Imagine how much better the meeting could be if everyone respected the time of their peers.
Respect the leader and your peers. You may think no one can hear your side-bar conversations, but they can. The facilitator may be pretending to ignore you, but it is a huge distraction. Save your side-bar conversations for breaks or after the meeting. If you didn’t hear what was being said, politely raise your hand and ask if they could repeat. Keep in mind, however, if you have to do this too many times perhaps you should move your chair closer to the speakers or, better yet, pay attention.
Make sure that your criticisms are aimed at ideas and not personal attacks on the person who offered the suggestion. Think about how you would feel if you were the target of an attack and act accordingly. Be optimistic. Don’t shoot down ideas because who is offering the input. Give all ideas and thoughts merit.
Come prepared to participate. If there is pre-work, make sure you get it done. The facilitator should not have to spend valuable meeting time bringing you up to speed on information and readings you should have looked at before the meeting.
Take on a role to help get things done. Does the group need a secretary, scribe or timekeeper? Help the meeting to be productive by taking on one of these roles. It will help you out in the long run.
Participate! Nothing makes for a more unproductive meeting then no one in the group participating. The minutes will tick by unbearably slow. Keep the meeting moving along by becoming engaged in the conversation (engaged not overbearing), you will be amazed at how fast the time will fly by.
Finally, follow up and follow through. If you agree to take on an action item, make sure you do. It will make all the difference in the world to the productivity of the group and the next meeting.
The success of a meeting is the responsibility of all those in attendance. The next time you complain, look inward to see what you could have done to make it better.
Need more help with organization? Ken Blanchard's "one minute" series can help!
The On-Time, On-Target Manager: How a "Last-Minute Manager" Conquered Procrastination