How much of your productive work time do you waste in pointless unproductive meetings that seem to meander in a rudderless fashion down a meaningless path of unnecessary blathering and brain numbing pointlessness? These types of meetings are the thief of one of the most valuable tools available to any organisation, namely the ability to use a gathering of minds, as a powerful tool for brain storming and productive activity.
Turn pointlessness into productivity
There must be a clearly defined purpose for holding any meeting. This must be clearly written down and circulated to everyone attending the meeting before commencing any meeting. The clear purpose, objectives and clearly defined outcomes required, when written down and collated, very often highlight the fact that a meeting is unnecessary. This clarity of purpose makes every meeting far more productive and will help you to achieve far better results, each time you convene a meeting.
Complete focus and engagement from every attendee.
Phones off, no laptops or distractions at all. Treat every meeting as though you were meeting with your most important clients. The only reason people fiddle with their phones or computers, is because they are attending an unnecessary meeting, with no point or purpose. With 100 % focus and attention from all attendees, meetings can be concluded and the objectives achieved in far less time.
Who must attend?
Be ruthless and only invite people to meetings, who will contribute to the outcome that you are trying to achieve. All hangers on that would only delay the progress in the meeting or who only need to be made aware of the proceedings, can be given a copy of the meeting summary. Only the key participants need to invest time to attend the actual meeting, time is your most valuable possession, stop wasting it on meetings you do not need to attend.
Schedule appearances at meetings
It is unnecessary that everyone attend every second of every meeting. If someone has a contribution that is only required 30 minutes into the meeting and will only take five minutes. Then have the foresight to call this person into the meeting, only when they are required and then have them leave once their contribution is complete.
Circulate a draft agenda to everyone asking for input before the meeting
Send a draft agenda to all participants and ask them for feedback and input. Their suggestions and input will help you to streamline proceedings even further. When everyone has some kind of input onto the agenda they are forced to think about the purpose of the meeting and they have a clearer understanding about why they need to attend any meeting.
Everyone attending must send their preparation material before the meeting
By distributing all reference material and background information to all participants before any meeting, you save on buckets of time, during the meeting, as the meeting does not need to waste everyone’s time discussing background issues that are of little or no value to the proceedings. This leaves all attendees with the opportunity to focus all their attention on valuable discussion, which is aligned with the objectives of the meeting.
Convening the meeting
The person running the meeting must open the proceedings, by reminding the group of the purpose of the meeting and the concluding objectives of the meeting.
Timing and Control
Strict control must be maintained at all times. The time frames as defined in the agenda must be adhered to and someone must be appointed as time keeper, they must give 2 minute warnings that a session is ending. This makes people get to the point and stops the unnecessary banter and rhetoric. There is nothing like a pending deadline to get people to perform and deliver. The chair person must retain strict control at all times and should the meeting begin to meander off the subject matter, they must quickly bring the meeting back into focus. This can be done by suggesting that unnecessary conversations be continued in a more suitable forum or at a different time.
Encourage debate
It is the role of the chair person to encourage debate, manage dispute and direct disagreement. There is really no point to convene any meeting, if everyone agrees about everything. The challenge when engaging in any rigorous debate, is to ensure that you confront ideas and never people, attack challenges and never anyone’s character. The chair person must encourage this debate and interaction, but must keep control, to ensure that the objectives of the meeting are always on the table.
Post Meeting
Clearly communicate the post meeting deliverables to all attendees. Everyone must be 100 % accountable for their individual deliverables. Each action must be allocated to only one person, with a clearly defined delivery date. The key points and outcomes achieved must be circulated to all attendees. There must be someone appointed to follow up with all attendees to ensure that they deliver on their commitments.
When you make the shift away from convening or attending any unnecessary meetings, you free up an incredible amount of time and you begin to get actual value from the meetings that you do attend. It is no longer necessary to suffer a slow death every time you attend a meeting. Take back control and only convene or attend meetings that are conducted as I have described above.
http://www.andrewhorton.co.za

Author's Bio: 

Andrew is an expert and master teacher that speaks on personal-leadership, expanded awareness, effectiveness, efficiency and productivity. He guides individuals and business professionals to identify, prioritise and carry out the right activities, consistently, so that they can maximise their personal effectiveness, within their available time. All the tools and techniques Andrew teaches; have been tested in the laboratory of his own life and the many successful businesses he has owned and led, over the past 20 years. These strategies have seen Andrew achieve financial independence and reach a point of harmonious balance in all areas of his life. His purpose is to help as many people as possible, achieve similar or better results and to show them how they can realise their full potential. His vision is to help as many people as possible, achieve financial independence and to help them live a meaningful life, where they are fulfilled in all areas. http://www.andrewhorton.co.za