Make meetings more effective: Your ideas

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

Last week, I called for the end of unproductive weekly meetings. You know the ones—those 60-minute standing meetings that take at least twice as much time to prepare for and accomplish very little. As McBride Nkhalamba of Southern Africa Trust commented, these “ceremonial meetings” often are a “redundant recital of the obvious.”

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I invited readers to share their tips for making meetings more productive in the comments section, and you did not disappoint. Here are some of my favorites:

Paula Temple of Westpac recommended that people take it upon themselves to decline meetings when they have nothing to add.

Institute the "law of 2 feet." If you are not able to add value to the meeting, excuse yourself and use the time to be productive in other areas.

A number of commenters raised the idea of calculating the cost of the meeting, based on the salaries of the attendees. Here’s what Peter Booth of Insight Management Services, had to say:

Some years ago, at a previous employer, we used an in-house software utility at the beginning of meetings. Attendees entered their names, and at the end of the meeting, the chair would add the total time taken for the meeting. The software threw back the cost of the meeting, taking salaries and benefits into account. It was a real eye-opener and encouraged smaller, more focused meetings.

Cecille Orquiola of the International School of Indiana said that people should use technology to share ideas and update colleagues on projects.

I hope they dispense with the weekly meetings. It is a holdover from ancient times, before email, Skype and smartphones. Meet only to demonstrate or instruct on something new that requires answering pertinent questions, making important decisions and/or reporting back on a previous task. Got announcements? Go email. Self-evident slide shows? Share online or via cloud. Paper tasks? Share editable cloud documents.

Robert Jenkins of BNP Paribas Wealth Management recently decided to take a different approach with his own meetings.

I hold a weekly team meeting. At the end of the last meeting, I told everyone that it is entirely optional next week. The only caveat is that if you have something to contribute, you have to be present—you could not get someone else to do it on your behalf. Let's see what happens next Tuesday!

Ikke GG of IKEA supports the use of a meeting manager who keeps the meeting focused on the topic at hand.

One of the most useful things in a meeting is a meeting “manager,” who can interrupt people and call them to point when they divert from topic. The person is not always appreciated by those who like to use meetings to relax, but if done correctly, it decreases the length of meetings a fair amount, in my experience. Meg McKenna of Aramark thinks a more direct solution to attendance bloat might be the answer.

It would be great if we could stop people from forwarding invitations to additional parties on behalf of the host. In each meeting invite, I have started including a line stating that this invitation cannot be forwarded, along with an agenda that is specific to the meeting; no standing agendas for business meetings.

Eric Manning of Cisco raised an interesting point about the perception of meetings at many companies; sometimes a cultural change may be in order.

There seems to be a business culture where having a lot of meetings on your calendar is like a badge of honor, almost like your importance is directly related to how many hours you spend in meetings. If you work at a company where you're perceived as busy, important or a hard worker simply because you're in a lot of meetings, then you'll create an environment where employees will seek out meetings to join, even when they're not critical to the discussion.

Here's the original article, in case you missed it: Let's Fix It: Kill the Weekly Meeting.