Some people spend their entire workday in meetings. These people barely have the time for a bathroom break and eat their lunches while attending. At the end of the day, they are tired and often still face a pile of “work” that needs doing.  If this describes you or if you want to include one of these people in your next meeting, read on.

Convening a meeting means asking busy people for a commitment of their time. Every person attending the meeting should know the purpose of meeting, the reason why their attendance is important and the duration of the meeting.

Whether the meeting is a face-to-face one, a conference call or a combination, to be productive it must have a purpose – make decisions, learn, share information, brainstorm. Regardless of the purpose, there are some inviolable rules for making every meeting productive:

  1. Make the purpose clear.
  2. Tell participants what is expected of them.
  3. Set a start and an end time and respect both.
  4. Prepare an agenda.
  5. Send a meeting summary that includes, the decisions reached and commitments made, including dates of any subsequent meetings.

As a meeting attendee, your responsibilities include:

  1. Know why you are attending. If the purpose of your attendance or the meeting itself is unclear, insist on knowing before you agree to attend. If you are not the right person to attend, nominate or send someone else in your stead.
  2. Commit to giving the meeting your full attention. If you cannot do that, let the convener know, send a delegate and/or make your contribution ahead of time.
  3. Understand who the other attendees are and what their contribution to the meeting purpose is.
  4. Participate in the discussion.
  5. Do not make commitments you cannot keep.

If we treat these rules as inviolable, our meetings will be more productive. Of course, there are lots of additional guidelines for good meetings but these will be a good start.