Take Control of the Agenda

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Most people say that regularly scheduled corporate meetings tend to be relatively non-productive (or as they say, “a waste of time”).  Recently, while I was coaching a client for an upcoming negotiation, it occurred to us that the negotiation rule “whoever speaks first, controls the agenda” also applies to staff meetings… and that means you have the power to make them less boring.

Think of the staff meeting as the consumption of time (30 minutes +/- more time). The person who creates the agenda, controls how well or poorly it’s used. Therefore, the best way to make sure the meeting time is well used – is to have a hand in its design.  Often clients report that senior leaders are working inside their own “silos” and do not spend time working together on planning, collaboration, and joint execution.

I often suggest that they create short weekly meetings to make sure that everyone’s on the same page concerning company-wide issues, are sharing challenges for which they need input from others, and are getting the input. To ensure that the time is well used, set up systems in which each participant has some control over the agenda (by submitting their most important issue(s) in advance so everyone knows what could be on the table). Also, control the amount of time and energy per topic to keep it succinct. (E.g., allocated five-ten minutes brief discussion to each topic, with the group able to add more time if it’s deemed valuable! If no-one has an issue that needs to be shared or discussed, then that meeting is scrapped, putting even more pressure on using the limited time well.

How to you keep meetings meaningful and succinct? How to you make sure the time is being used well?  Share your best practices with us!