Steps to Management Success – Step 117: Start and End Meetings on Time

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 15th, 2010


Start and End Meetings on Time

If you’re not the boss or meeting manager, this rule is obviously not applicable—but even if you’re not, there will probably be a time or two in your career when you are tasked with running a meeting, and Rule #1 of effective meeting management is “Run meetings on time.”

WHAT IT MEANS: The more people in the room, the more schedules (and overall productivity) your meeting will affect. Letting all participants know exactly how long a meeting will take is not only considerate, but it also enables people to plan accordingly and stay on their schedules. It tells them that you value their time. And it demonstrates that you’re an effective manager—able to stick to your agenda . . . and word. Nobody appreciates meaningless meetings that ramble on endlessly—so, at the very least, by adhering to a clear agenda and timetable, you’ll be doing everyone a favor.

ACTION PLAN: Start and end on time, no matter what. Don’t wait for people to show up. Don’t waste time with break-the-ice small talk—this is not the time for water-cooler chitchat. Make sure everyone has a copy of the agenda beforehand, and dig right in. Manage the tendency to go off topic by nipping it in the bud. Say, “That’s an interesting idea, Jeff, but I think it’s too far afield from this meeting’s agenda. If it’s OK with you, I’d like to bring it up for discussion at our next meeting.”

EVEN BETTER: Manage meeting expectations. It’s better to schedule an hour meeting and have it end ten minutes early than schedule a forty-five-minute meeting and have it end ten minutes late. Also, there are times when you might consider breaking this rule; for example, when there’s a great idea that you want to brainstorm further in the heat of the moment—but do so with caution. Attendance at that point should be made optional, or let there be a five-minute break

(Excerpted from: 10 Clowns Don’t Make a Circus. . . and 249 Other Critical Management Success Strategies by Steven Schragis and Rick Frishman)

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