Holding garbage-free meetings

How many times have you thought that meetings are a waste of times? Now research supports your perception. A vast majority of meetings turn out to be a waste of time because of a lack of vision and planning. With a little planning effort, meetings can be streamlined and made effective. Here are a few steps that can offer great benefits to holding garbage-free meetings.

Before the meeting

Everyone is aware of the middle part of the meeting process. Few realise that most problems in the visible meeting directly result from failures in the preparation phase. Even a lack of results after the meeting can often be traced to poor preparation, or the GIGO principle (Garbage In, Garbage Out). A three-point checklist can help you ensure a garbage-free meeting:

Purpose: A crisp, clear, concise purpose statement lays the foundation for the success of any meeting. A powerful purpose statement finishes the sentence, “We are holding this meeting to...” For example, “... decide which new CAD software package to purchase,” or “... identify the source of the high deviation rate in the xyz process.” Once you have a clear purpose statement, you may find that holding a meeting isn’t the most effective way to achieve that


People: With a clear purpose in mind, you can select a concentrated group with expertise or insight relating to that purpose. If your meeting group must grow beyond seven or eight people, a trained facilitator can shorten the time needed to achieve the purpose and also improve the quality of results. Plan: Your plan for the meeting, commonly known as the agenda, includes logistics such as time, place, and date. It also includes a listing of objectives to be achieved, or anticipated outcomes, and details that will help people prepare ahead of time to make strong contributions and decisions. During the Meeting

Opening: It takes more than just sitting down in chairs and loosening the jawbones to make a meeting successful. Use the following pointers to get your meeting off on the right foot: start on time, review the agenda, establish or review ground rules. Discussion: This is generally what people think of when they think of a meeting. Use the following pointers to keep it from

becoming a frustrating waste of time: stick to the agenda, enforce the ground rules, think win/win, record and save lists of ideas that are generated.

Decision: Decisions can take many forms and they can be delayed for avoidable reasons. Use these tips to improve your decisions: arrive prepared, use the best strategy.

Closure: Schedule time on the agenda for a strong close. If everyone gets up and dashes off just as the last agenda item concludes, lots of things are likely to fall through the cracks. Use these pointers for a strong close: evaluate the meeting, review decisions and assignments, plan the next meeting. After the Meeting One of the most common complaints about meetings is that nothing happens afterwards. Ensuring results is a shared responsibility and falls into three domains: action, communication and tracking.