In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog

Tips to Improve Office Meetings

While walking to deliver a speech at NASA, President John F. Kennedy got lost and found himself in a janitor's closest.

The President encountered a man there, cleaning a mop, and asked what he was doing at the facility.

"Oh," the startled worker said, "I'm putting a man on the Moon." According to legend, that inspired JFK to "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

It was an idea that propelled a nation to the Moon, and it has the power to transform your meetings into inspirational moments. It's about purpose.

Mission Purpose

If everybody hates your meetings, it's probably because the meetings are boring and irrelevant to them. That's not their fault.

There are many ways to address the problem. Here are a few:

  • Have a clear agenda
  • Follow the agenda
  • Start and finish on time
  • Include only necessary people

That last point covers a multitude of sins. If you drag people into meetings when they have no purpose there, you are wasting their time.

The key, as the president learned from the janitor, is to include everybody in the company's mission. Make sure they understand the goal and their purpose in achieving it.

Mission Critical

Once you identify the individuals who are critical for a meeting, make them accountable. It's mandatory for them to be there and to participate.

Reports and assignments ensure participation. And sometimes, you have to shut down people to keep things moving.

"If you notice one person monopolizing the conversation, call him out. Say, 'We appreciate your contributions, but now we need input from others before making a decision,'" advises Neal Hartman, a lecturer in managerial communication at MIT Sloan School of Management.

After all, it's meeting -- not a monotony. That would make for a really boring job.

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