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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

To get more things done in less time - Part - 4

"Some time I get the feeling that the two biggest problems today are making ends meet and making meetings end "
                                                                                                                                    - Robert Orben

  • Only call a meeting when it is absolutely best way to accomplish an objective. Explore all other alternatives before calling a meeting.
  • Make the meeting short. Most managers say that at least one half of their meeting time is wasted. That averages out to 5 hours per week, 250 hours per year for each person involved.
  • Make it a goal to cut your meeting time in half. If people are prepared before they arrive, most meetings could be accomplished in half the time.
  • Write meeting objectives and the scheduled ending time on the board or flip-chart before anyone arrives. This will keep the meeting focused and eliminate the stress caused by overly long meetings.
  • If you are leading the meeting, sit at the end of the table so you can control the flow.
  • Make sure that every meeting is absolutely necessary. Routine meetings are not a good investment unless they fulfill, or move forward your objective.
    • Look for meeting alternatives. If you can accomplish objectives by telephone, save every one's time and palan aconference call.
    • Consolidate meeting with other meetings.
    • Make it a personal objective to attend face to face meetings less often.......why not start today?
    • Every meeting should have a published agenda answering most obvious questions. Why  am I investing time in this meeting? How long will it lost? Who is attending? What are the expectations?
    • If the meeting does not start in time, take the responsibility to say,"Hey ! It is 9 o' clock. let's get going. It is time to get started".
    • Invite only the people who have something to contribute to the meeting's objectives. There should be no "vacationers" or "slackers/hangers on" at the table.
    • Consider dismissing participants after they complete their portion of the meeting - as long as it is not important that they hear what is scheduled for the remainder of the meeting.
    • If you are asked to participate in some one else's meeting, communicate with the meeting leader, that you would prefer to attend only the portion that relates to you. When you have completed your "dog and pony",  ask if anything further is needed. If not excuse yourself .
    • Always have extra handouts available for your participants. Better to have too many than hold everything for want of those extra copies.
    • Start on time. If the meeting is to start at 8.38, begin at 8.38. One of the largest expenses that never appear on the income statement is the cost of meetings. Figure it out - four Rs.50000/- employees in a four hour meeting costs more than Rs.300/- in employee time. Respect the investment your meeting requires.
    • Most of the time, early morning meetings are best. People are fresher, the challenges of the day has not surfaced and the odds of every one arriving on time improve. 
    • Do not recap what has been covered for people who are late. Ignore them when they arrive and keep going. If you recap what has been covered, you reward the tardy person and punish the "on time ' folks. 
    • Take care of the most important item on the agenda first. If nothing else is accomplished. make sure you accomplish the most important reason for calling the meeting. 
    • Set time limits on how long you will allow people to 'sell" their products. a huge time waster is people who continue to fight losing battles. Set limits on the time allowed per item and move forward. 
    •  Do not serve breakfast and meet at the same time. They have never added to the productivity of a meeting. If the meeting starts at 9.00 A.M. serve breakfast at 8.30.
    • If meeting over lunch, cover general items that do not require focus. It is more productive to take a 30 minute lunch break than try to keep everyone's attention while serving/eating food.  If one of your objective s is to set the scene for social bonding, allocate your mealtime to that objective.
      • Complete all your agenda items  before moving to unrelated topics. Put important items not scheduled for the meetingon a "parking lot" flip chart for discussion later. The parking lot issues should be part of the minutes when they are distributed.
      • Appoint the last person who arrives for the meeting as the person responsible for taking the minutes. But they will show up on time for the next meeting.
      • Want to abbreviate meetings? Have a stand up session. Get rid of the chairs and put some podiums in the room. You are assured that everyone will stay awake and will want to get to the point quickly. 
      • Use a special bound note book to capture all meeting notes. This eliminates wasting time searching for what happened at the previous meeting.
      • Furnish extra pens/paper to avoid waiting for people who go back to their offices to retrieve supplies.
      • Never speak while you are writing, on the flip chart. Wait until you face the audience so you do not have to repeat what you are saying.
      • Use the flip chart to maintain the meeting's direction and to record who's responsible for action items.
      • Reward participants for telling the truth. If " messengers" are "shot down" for telling the truth, no "truthful messengers" will attend the next meeting.
      • Before leaving the meeting, don't assume anything! Do You really think everyone knows what they are supposed to do next? Recap, so everyone knows who is responsible for next steps, when action should take place and how results will be communicated.
      • End the meeting on time or END EARLY.  The minute you go past your slated time, stress levels rise and attention levels fall. Every one enjoys the pleasant surprise of getting out early.
      • Get organised! Call each participant the day before and confirm attendance. This may not appear to be good use of your time and it should be their responsibility. However, much more time is wasted when all but one person arrives at the meeting and you are trying to "round up that last person"
      • Do not allow time in meetings for solving hundred rupees problems when you are spending thousands of Rupees on the meeting. Focus on what is important.
      • The meeting is not over until the minutes have been distributed ( within two working days)and all action items have been accomplished 
      • Never leave a meeting wondering why you invested your time in the meeting. If the objectives were not accomplished, figure out what can be done differently to ensure that the next meeting does not end the same way. 
      • Distribute pre-work for participants. If each person could research for all other participants, you can save a significant amount of time for the entire meeting. 
      • Before leaving the meeting, create an action plan for all of the decisions that were made in the meeting. 
      • Control dominate participants by reinforcing that you understand their position and ask the dominating person to listen to other participant's point of view so that we can create a course of action. 
      • Make every meeting unique. Do something different for each meeting like changing the location, time or room lay out. Sometimes the small changes will add energy to the group.

    Meetings without specific objectives tend to achieve nothing specific.

    Blogger Harisankar said...
    I implicitly do this whenever I am taking a presentation. yay.

    this is a funny video on what not to do with powerpoints.

    Here is something else to save time
    a mug that stirs tea for you

    hope you find it funny
    August 11, 2010 2:44 PM


    Harisankar said...

    I implicitly do this whenever I am taking a presentation. yay.

    this is a funny video on what not to do with powerpoints.

    Here is something else to save time
    a mug that stirs tea for you

    hope you find it funny

    hvaidya said...

    Dear Readers,

    Please try the links given by Mr. Harisankar. They are really good and lot more in those pages.