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7 Ways to Keep Meetings Short

What Happens in Long and Boring Meetings

After serving on 37 professional boards during my career — and spending six long years as a board member of my local homeowners association — I’ve become convinced that most people running meetings have no idea of how to run a meeting.

Making the most of your meeting time is key to managing an effective gathering, regardless of size. Here are seven behaviors I wish my fellow board members had grasped a long time ago:

  1. Know why you are part of the group.

    What does the group need, and what can you offer? What expertise do you possess that can help the group succeed? Honestly answer those questions, and then live up to your potential. There is nothing worse than being part of a board or committee on which just a few people do all the work.

  2. Do your homework before each meeting.

    Review the agenda and determine what information you will need at the meeting. Look over the previous meeting’s minutes and relevant financial information or other reports before you arrive. This saves everyone time.

  3. Arrive ready for action. 

    Be prepared to make motions and offer suggestions. Prepare any wording of proposals, agreements or key questions in advance so that they are clear and concise. If you have a report to give, make sure you have copies of complicated information, visuals or other relevant information to share with others. I truly appreciate those members on the homeowners association board who review the information packet before the meeting, show up and focus on the agenda.

  4. If you don’t like something, suggest changes.

    When I work with departments that are struggling, I ask members of those departments to identify “key ingredients for a healthy work environment.” Then I ask them to specifically define those ingredients so everyone can strive to incorporate them into the workplace. This approach can be successful for committees, too. Imagine what might happen if you took the time to identify everyone’s needs at the beginning of a board meeting and agreed on ground rules for success. Try it at your next meeting! 

  1. Show up.

    And I don’t just mean physically. If you are going to invest your time by being part of a board, be “present” — not do other paperwork, update your to-do list or check email on your smartphone. Multitasking is overrated. In Making Work Work: New Strategies for Surviving and Thriving at the Office, author Julie Morgenstern writes that top executives don’t multitask; instead, they take chunks of time to focus on specific tasks. If we all did that, we would get a lot more done. Same thing goes for board meetings: If everyone focused on what they were there for, so much would be accomplished in a shorter amount of time.

  2. Review action items before you leave to ensure consensus.

    At the end of board meetings, take a minute or two to recap what will happen between now and the next meeting, and who is responsible for each assignment. Then make sure the board’s secretary labels action items in the minutes with bold letters, so they can easily be identified later.

  3. Know that you can make a difference.

    I look back now and am proud of our homeowners association’s accomplishments. We professionally handled some sticky situations, and although my term was filled with financial controversy because of a fencing issue, we made it through a challenging time and brought the neighborhood together. A number of homeowners came up and thanked me for my volunteer work. I wasn’t expecting that, but it was nice to be recognized and realize we made a difference in our community.

By following these simple guidelines, you can make a difference, too, on whatever committee or board of directors you serve. And you know what? Most of these ideas will translate well to workplace meetings, too.

(Photo by iStock)

About Ruby Newell-Legner

As a Fan Experience Expert, Ruby helps leaders in sports, leisure and entertainment build strong teams between front line staff and management, and make exceptional customer service a way of life. She has consulted with and designed customized training programs for more than 60 sports and entertainment venues, 80 leisure facilities and 29 professional sports teams. From the only 7 Star Hotel in the world to Convention Centers, from Denver to Dubai, Ruby brings unprecedented expertise and insight on how to create a service culture that motivates employees and promotes customer loyalty and retention.

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