Sin #1: People don't take meetings seriously. They arrive late, leave early, and spend most of their time doodling.
Salvation: Adopt the mind-set that meetings are real work.
There are as many techniques to improve the "crispness" of meetings as there are items on the typical meeting agenda. Some companies punish latecomers with a penalty fee or reprimand them in the minutes of the meeting. But these techniques address symptoms, not the disease. Disciplined meetings are about mind-set -- a shared conviction among all the participants that meetings are real work. That all-too-frequent expression of relief -- "Meeting's over, let's get back to work" -- is the mortal enemy of good meetings.
"Most people simply don't view going to meetings as doing work," says William Daniels. "You have to make your meetings uptime rather than downtime."
On the wall you can have a poster with a series of simple questions about the meetings that take place there. Do you know the purpose of this meeting? Do you have an agenda? Do you know your role? Do you follow the rules for good minutes?
These posters are a visual reminder of just how serious the company is about productive meetings.
Sin #2: Meetings are too long. They should accomplish twice as much in half the time.
Salvation: Time is money. Track the cost of your meetings and use computer- enabled simultaneity to make them more productive.
Almost every guru invokes the same rule: meetings should last no longer than 90 minutes. When's the last time your company held to that rule?
One reason meetings drag on is that people don't appreciate how expensive they are.
Therefore talk about the cost of bad meetings. Because bad meetings lead to even more meetings, and over time the costs become awe-inspiring.
Sin #3: People wander off the topic. Participants spend more time digressing than discussing.
Salvation: Get serious about agendas and store distractions in a "parking lot." It's the starting point for all advice on productive meetings: stick to the agenda.