I’ve been to a lot of meetings – it is the battle ground of modern business. It is also where we make decisions, drive progress and get our priorities aligned. Most meetings, however, are just terrible energy drains. Bad meetings are bad for people, and they harm quality. It is not hard to claim that bad meetings are also bad for safety, if the workshops and meetings used to drive risk assessments and engineering activities are not well organized with a clear focus. Based on experience from a decade in meeting rooms, I’ve devised the following 5 rules of great meetings that I think are truly helpful.
Meeting Rule #1 If your meeting does not have a clear purpose, a specific agenda, and defined desired outcomes, the meeting shall not take place.
Meeting Rule #2 Carefully select attendees and share the purpose and agenda of your meeting with the attendees in advance, asking for feedback. Continue to foster debate and two-way interactions in the meeting.
Meeting Rule #3 Adapt architecture of meetings to the purpose, agenda and size of the meeting, by carefully selecting visual aids, meeting locations, duration and formality to fit your needs.
Meeting Rule #4 Stay close to the agenda to show that you value results, and at the same time give praise where praise is due both during the meeting and in the minutes. Make sure you make it very clear when you and your team have reached a desired outcome in your meeting.
Meeting Rule #5 Never invite to a meeting to drive outcomes you do not feel OK with from an ethical standpoint.
I’m very interested to hear what you think about these rules, and if you have other heuristics for making meetings work. I’m sure not all meetings I lead are great, but they are probably much better after I’ve realized a few things summarized in these rules, than they used be before. Tell me what you think in the comment field, or on Twitter (@sjefersuper).