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by Allen J. Sheinman | June 29, 2015

If the ROI of your last meeting wound up being intricately detailed doodles on the pads of most attendees, it could be a sign that the gathering went on too long. Here are ways to keep things short, sharp and productive as enumerated by leadership coach/consultant/presenter Dan Rockwell on his popular Leadership Freak blog at leadershipfreak.wordpress.com.

1. Ban electronic devices. Everyone will be eager to end the meeting if they can’t read or send texts or emails.
2. Send background materials the day before. Meet with a key player who can gather and summarize materials for the team. Review and approve all background information before it’s sent.
3. State the purpose of the meeting when you send out the agenda. State the purpose again at the beginning of the meeting. A meeting without a purpose is a complete waste of time.
4. Establish action items on the agenda, not discussion points. State what needs to be accomplished.
5. Ask people for their conclusion when they begin speaking. Teach teammates to get to the point quickly by asking:
• What’s your conclusion?
• What’s your recommendation?
• What do you want?
6. Minimize one-way communication. Leverage two-way, real-time communication.
7. Limit the number of participants to five or six at most. Small groups:
• Increase ownership.
• Elevate responsibility.
• Shorten the time needed for the meeting.
• Expose drifters. Drifters can’t hide in small groups.
8. End at the appointed time. Teach people that you stick with the agenda.
9. Don’t reward tardiness by reviewing.
10. Send meeting results:
• Review decisions made.
• List follow up responsibilities. The person who doesn’t have something to do after the meeting shouldn’t have attended the meeting.
• Include deadlines.