Saturday, September 5, 2009

Spend less time on meetings and do more


The Business Times, p.B1

Saturday, September 05, 2009



By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

Spend less time on meetings and do more


FOLLOWING the example in the book, The Hamster Revolution for Meetings: How to meet less and get more done by Mike Song, Vicki Halsey and Time Burress, this is my suggestion for a powerful meeting invitation. It is simple, useful and saves time because meeting participants will be better prepared and would know how to contribute to the success of the meeting.


With the traffic in Manila, our consultants find it onerous to come to the office for a short meeting. Also, we do not want to take them away from whatever projects they are involved in.


Subject: Paradigms & Paradoxes Design Planning Session

Location: Web conferencing via Skype

Date: September 17, 2009

Time: 10 a.m. to 10:50 a.m.


Objective: Review and affirm plans for design of two new training programs for targeted clients for 2010



1. Review current design and delivery strategies—Adrian, 10 minutes

2. Review current trends and opportunities from ASTD 2009 International Conference—Moje, 10 minutes

3. Identify content and delivery methodologies for two new training programs—Team, 30 minutes


Logistics: Skype Code


• Review existing designs of similar training programs

• Share successful experiences with team via e-mail


Here are more helpful tips for ensuring the success of your meetings:


• Stick with a hard start and stop time. It means start and stop meetings as scheduled. It creates a sense of urgency that keeps the meeting on track.

• Schedule 20- or 50-minute meetings instead of 60 minutes. Participants have 10 minutes to get to their next meeting or have time to collect their thoughts and materials for the next meeting and time to squeeze in that important phone call or give urgent instructions to their staff.

• Plan to arrive five minute early—build a buffer zone into your schedule for some unexpected event, e.g. traffic jam, a phone call, a technical glitch, etc.

• Agree to a small penalty, like paying a small amount of money to a team charity, for being late.

• Have 5- or 10-minute meetings and hold them standing up. That would create a sense of urgency!

• Schedule a follow-up meeting at the end of the current one. Do not just suggest, schedule it to avoid hassles of nailing down a time and place that works for everyone later.

• When setting a meeting with a client, always provide the invitee with a minimum of three meeting dates and times. All they need to do is select a date. Don't leave the invitation open-dated or there will be a lot of back-and-forth communication about the date.

• Don't cram every imaginable item into your agenda. That will be time-consuming.

• Avoid distractions. Hang a "Quiet Please" sign on your office door during important meetings. Lock your meeting door. If you are in your home office with no door, establish hand signals to let your family members know when they must be quiet. Temporarily move your pets out of your home office so you can sound more professional during the meetings. Turn off your television set.

• When doing virtual meetings such as teleconferencing or web confe­rencing, disable pop-up reminders and incoming email dings. Increase the time before your screen saver triggers. Silence office phones and turn cell phones into vibrate. If you're hosting a web conference, log in 30 minutes early to test the web and phone connection. Make sure that all the log-in information and interactive tools you plan to use are working fine. Actually the pre-check will only take five minutes, but when things go wrong, you might need 10 to 20 minutes to isolate the problem, reboot your computer, contact the help desk and figure out an alternative plan.


Honey, we can't be meeting this way all the time. So let's have more effective meeting techniques next column.


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