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Bad meetings are epidemic. Let’s do something about it!

I’ve come up with a few antidotes to bad meetings. This is just a beginning. I know there will be more to come.

Bad Meeting Antidote #1 – Demand passionate conversations, even conflict. Not people fighting with each other but people wrestling with ideas, options, plans, evaluations. (Hint – designate a “devil’s advocate” if you must.) If everyone agrees, you didn’t need the meeting.

Bad Meeting Antidote #2 – Demand preparation. Meetings should not be about sharing information; there are better (and cheaper) ways to do that. Don’t rehash anything that was sent out beforehand unless it is in response to a question for clarification or deeper understanding. If you’re not ready, stay away!

Bad Meeting Antidote #3 – Demand openness. Design ways to ensure that every thought and argument is heard, that no dissenting idea leaves the room unspoken. “Bill, we haven’t heard your take on this yet; what are you thinking?” Implement a No After-Meeting Muttering policy; “We say it here or we don’t ever say it.”

Bad Meeting Antidote #4 – Demand action. Close every meeting with a summary of what has been decided and what actions will be taken. Have team members commit to each other not just to the organization. Who will do what by when and how will they report it?

Bad Meeting Antidote #5 – Demand active participation. Only invite people who actively contribute to the conversation. No lurkers! On important subjects, stop for two minutes and have people write down their key thought or question BEFORE the discussion starts; that way no one can wait to see which way the wind is blowing before they provide input.

What antidotes do you have? Let’s put together a high-impact list.

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