I love meetings. I get the opportunity to stop important work and hurry to get to a room which the meeting leader is 15 minutes late. Then to make up for the time lost, the meeting lasts 30 minutes longer.
Wait, I am a liar. I hate meetings.
Contrary to popular belief, meetings can be valuable, but you need become a meeting superhero.
Before scheduling a meeting, first ask yourself “can I accomplish this without a meeting?” Brainstorm on this one, you could eliminate a lot of wasted time.
If you cannot find a way to escape holding a meeting, make an agenda, and send it to the participants well before the meeting. Most meeting invitations only contain a vague title and no explanation of the discussion. The agenda helps to keep everybody focused. By the way, every meeting, which I have been a part of, that had an agenda, has ended early. If you are invited to a meeting which does not have an agenda request one to be received ahead of the meeting.
Think about the people who need to be at the meeting. Make sure you only have the people who need to be there. Then get rid of one more. You need not waste people’s time unless they should be there.
How long should the meeting be? It is typical to schedule it for an hour (just because the software sets it that way). Decide on a length of time for the meeting and then reduce it by 15 minutes. You may not believe you can accomplish everything, but with deadlines you will always accomplish the important things.
If you want to be at a meeting all day start the meeting expecting the group to brainstorm a solution to a problem. It is tempting to give everybody the chance to develop a democratic solution. It usually does not work this way. There are too many different personalities, some are stronger than others, and everybody has an agenda (which could negative or positive).
When you need to brainstorm you should do this before the meeting. Come up with no more than 3 options with the basic pros and cons. Discuss this list at the meeting for everybody to make a decision.
Also, when working in a group you need to do one thing at a time. First you brain storm (if you have to in a meeting) and nothing else. Then you do the next step (i.e. catogorize, or eliminate, etc.). If you try to do too many steps the group will lose focus and the meeting will be unproductive.