Productive Meetings Require Constraints

Few people bear a smile when it's time for a meeting, because most of us have spent time in unproductive ones that seem to have no end. But they can be useful and productive so long as you take the right approach.

Photo by Andrew Magill.

Productivity and ideas blog 99u studied the methodology of meetings at several successful companies and found the following common threads:

  1. All meetings must have a stated purpose or agenda. Without an agenda, meetings can easily turn into aimless social gatherings rather than productive working sessions.
  2. Attendees should walk away with concrete next steps or Action Items. We love Action Items here, but we're not the only ones. From Apple to the Toastmasters, the world's most successful organisations demand that attendees leave meetings with actionable tasks.
  3. The meeting should have an end time. Constraints breed creativity. By not placing an endtime, we encourage rambling, off-topic and useless conversation.

These are simple adjustments and work well for me because they're not so much an aimless gathering of people, but rather a very specific set of tasks to be carried out as a group. For many more tips from successful companies, such as Apple and Google, check out the full post over at 99u.

How to Run Your Meetings Like Apple and Google [99u]


    I have a little web app for better meetings -

      Hmm, let's try the link again

    The list is missing Item 4 - there has to be a chairperson / organizer / leader to run it, work through the agenda, and ensure people stay on topic. Otherwise it becomes chaotic fairly quickly.

      That's right - They also have to be attentive and wanting to keep the ball rolling.

    No sitting down in meetings.
    30 Minutes, standing only. Surprisingly how quick things get sorted.

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