We all accept them, endure them and dread them. If I'm wrong here, please let me know.
And yet, when we're actually "in" the meeting, we can't seem to help ourselves. We interrupt each other, toss out useless attempts at humor, poke fun at each other or ask specific questions meant for one person, not the group.
Add to that the people taking cell phone calls (not even excusing themselves), texting or emailing and it's a wonder anyone stays on track long enough to reach a decision. Actually, they don't ... and the meeting spills into yet more meetings.
Want to cut meetings to a manageable length?
Here's a tip: shut up. Don't say anything that doesn't need to be said. Don't be rude, and don't withhold, but don't feel compelled to jump in every few seconds with your own response.
Second tip: If you've got nothing of substance - don't try to make it more than it is. After a meeting in which I had remained fairly silent, my boss told me to make sure I have something to contribute at every meeting, even if there was really nothing new to add. Thereafter, I found myself looking for things to say, even if not all that important. Of course, this only served to make the meeting last, you guessed it, even longer.
If you're leading the meeting, insist on some groundrules. Be tough, even if you have to cut people off. Your meetings may not be as much "fun," but they'll thank you in the end.
How about you? What keeps meetings on track at your office?
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