The Hidden Etiquette of Meetings - Less Meeting

Posted by | March 09, 2011 | Meeting Tips | One Comment
It’s 3:30 and you glance down at your phone to check your schedule for the rest of the afternoon… Booked solid until 5pm (again). Not a lot a free time available to get work done between all these meetings.
Do you constantly struggle with how to get work done with all of meetings you attend. Are you an avid GTD junky, do you align yourself to Zen Habits principles of simplification, if Merlin Mann ran for president would he get your vote? Like you and millions of other knowledge workers, I have to battle the day-to-day meeting crunch of spending more than 25% of my time in meetings, I tried to squeeze as much effectiveness out of meetings as possible.
As you have grown in your career you have most likely uncovered a lot of little tricks to run your meetings better. Over the next few posts we are going to explore a few of the often overlooked areas of meeting etiquette.
The “Hidden Etiquette of Meetings” that we are are going to cover include:

  • Meeting Flow – How should we handle Introductions, Framing, Clarifying, and Conclusion?
  • Pressing Issues In Meetings – When is it OK to have sidebar or bring up discussion items that are not on the agenda?
  • Technology in Meetings – What Level of technology in meetings is acceptable?
  • When To Invite / When To Attend – What are the rules about inviting certain people to meetings? When is is OK to decline a meeting?
  • When To Talk / When To Listen – How do you structure your meetings so people know when to talk and when to contribute?
  • Hidden Roles and Responsibilities – Does everyone understand their role in the meetings?

We look forward to your feedback on these areas of meeting etiquette, as well as any other suggestions on how to improve meetings.
Stay Tuned…

One Comment

  • Trent says:

    A few of my personal preferences for some of the items above:

    Intros – only if the group is meeting for the first time. I have clients that do a roll-call every week on the standing call. They dont realize all you need to do is hit #9 or whatever the code is to have the attendee list play to you privately.

    Agenda – Sent out before the meeting. Doesnt need to have timings associated with each item necessarily, unless the meeting is > 1hr.

    Parking lot – required. Especially if you have a group that doesn’t stick to agenda often. Schedule the follow-up meetings with just the 2 or 3 people who need to be present. Sidebars are only worth it if you need something resolved before people leave the table.

    Technology – This one is tough. In transitioning completely away from paper-based notes to Evernote, I obviously need a computer or mobile to capture any notes. On the other hand, I hate when I’m presenting/talking and someone is just typing/clicking away. In a larger group (or on a conference call) this isn’t a problem. In a room of < 6 or 7 people, it comes off as rude. Tough on to balance. Hopefully only a temporary problem though until *real* tablets are pervasive and handwriting electronic notes is en vogue. When to invite/attend – Use “Required/optional” for Outlook scheduled meetings. If an optional person declines, no big deal. If a required person declines you make the call on whether you need to reschedule, you escalate to their boss to make them available or press on without them. If your meeting is small enough and the person is key, you probably need to get on the phone w/ them to find a slot that works. R&R – Always have a minute taker. If that person uses LessMeeting for the minutes, even better. Having this person dedicated hopefully frees up the key people from having to take their own notes and risk a technology faux pas, or distracting them from the purpose of the meeting, which is likely to inform, or come to a decision, which they can now focus on.