When you hear the word, "meeting," what word comes to mind: perhaps "boring" or "wasteful?"

This self-assessment should help you better plan and run meetings.. Give yourself 1 point for each yes, 0 points for each no:

1. You carefully decide whether a meeting really is necessary. Usually meetings are needed only when time-sensitive interaction is required: for example, brainstorming to solve an urgent problem. If it isn't time-sensitive, an email soliciting input may better use people's time. One-way communication, such as a progress report, is also usually better handled via email.

Your score: ____

2. You carefully decide who needs to attend a meeting. Often, fewer people need attend than one might first think. If a person might be offended at not being invited, explain why his or her time would better be used elsewhere.

Your score: ____

3. One or two days before the meeting, you send an agenda to the attendees. Because discussions tend to expand to fill the time allotted, you allocate as little time to each agenda item as is reasonable.

Your score: ____

4. The agenda items list the desired outcome, for example, "agreement on a new pay structure," rather than "discuss new pay structure."

Your score: ____

5. As appropriate, you assign an individual to take charge of agenda items.

Your score: ____

6. You solicit feedback on the agenda in time to make changes.

Your score: ____

7. If it would help, you assign someone to take notes and produce the minutes, including who will be responsible for what post-meeting tasks.

Your score: ____

8. As appropriate, you assign a "stuff disturber" to propose bold ideas and to question others' ideas. That avoids the too-common occurrence of meetings generating tepid, lowest common denominator plans.

Your score: ____

9. You arrange for food to be available. Food lubricates conversation, especially in meetings that could be contentious.

Your score: ____

10. You start meetings on-time and end on-time or early. Starting late wastes time, punishes the punctual and conveys that in the future, attendees can arrive late.

Your score: ____

11. Consider making the meeting a stand-up meeting. Washington University research suggests more gets accomplished if the attendees are standing, especially if the meetings are 10 to 20 minutes long.

Your score: ____

12. In meetings, if someone is dominating, you usually say something like, "Let's be sure other people get an opportunity to talk."

Your score: ____

13. At the end of each agenda item, you summarize, including who'll be responsible for any post-meeting tasks.

Your score: ____

14. If a new topic is suggested, unless it's clearly more important and urgent than the agenda items, park them on a whiteboard, the idea bin, to be addressed later.

Your score: ____

15. You review the minutes and distribute them to attendees within a day of the meeting.

Your score: ____

Utterly Unvalidated Scoring Key

13 - 15: Meeting Master

10 - 12: Meeting Maven

7 - 9: Meeting Moderate

> 6: Meeting Mushpot

Now look at the questions on which you scored yourself a zero. Do you want to do anything differently in planning or running your next meeting?

Marty Nemko's bio is in Wikipedia.

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