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Six tips for how to run faster, more productive meetings

Wired, Aug. 2007 at 56, urges people in charge of meetings to consider a half-dozen ways to improve them. (1) Don’t have a meeting at all. Perhaps the law department can settle the issues by e-mail or phone or in the informal one-on-one chats. (2) Prepare a clear agenda. For every meeting, outline for the participants ahead of time what will be discussed, what decisions have to be made, and some sense of the order and timing of the topics. (3) Invite as few people as possible. Just as you should keep to a minimum whom you copy on emails, likewise prune meeting invitees to the essential people.

(4) Do away with chairs. If people can only stand during the meeting “It’ll keep things high energy, short, and to the point.” (5) Start on time. “Consider an incentive system that records promptness — say, buying only enough snacks for early birds or letting people speak in the order they arrive and ending on time. Tardy folk don’t get their turn.” (6) Set a timer. Start and end your meetings promptly according to a clock that everyone in the room can see.