Come Friday, the urge to avoid that 37th committee meeting can become almost irresistible. So it might come as a surprise to that a new guide to meetings suggests not that we are taking meetings too seriously – but instead that we’re not taking them seriously enough. Michael C. Mankins, writing in the Harvard Business Review, suggests ways to make meetings more productive, and we’ve selected our favourites.
The rule of seven
Seven is the maximum number of people you can cope with at any meeting, Mankins argues. While he accepts the need to make people feel included, he adds that “what people don’t realize is that every additional attendee adds cost.” He estimates every attendee above seven reduces the chances of actually getting something done by 10 per cent. So by 17, you may as well not have bothered.
Choose a default time
Mankins claims that the default company meeting time is now 60 minutes – a huge chunk of time to fill. Choosing a lower default time, such as 30 minutes or less, will encourage attendees to prepare beforehand and bring only their most useful points to the meeting. If meetings need to last longer, it should require the approval of executives several levels above those attending the meetings.
Clarifying the meeting, and the attendees’ roles (and, one might suggest, responsibilities) in making decisions, will make their jobs much more clear and produce results. And recording all those decisions in a ‘decisions log’ will show people that their hard work produced concrete results.
You can read the original HBR article here.
You should manage meetings as closely as you manage investments, starting with these guidelines.