Gather Round The Table

A good meeting needs a person who is in charge and conscientious of everyone’s time. You have all types of people around a table at any given meeting. Every one has a story to tell. The effective meeting leader makes sure that no single person gets so far into his or her story as to waste everyone else’s time. If information is important but only pertains to one or two people, the meeting leader instructs them to meet afterwards then moves on to the next person.

Another thing that rubs me wrong is when a meeting is held just to have a meeting, while the real business could have been handled with a two-minute phone call or a quick e-mail. What really irritates me is someone sending me an e-mail, then calling me to tell me an e-mail has been sent, then suggesting a meeting to discuss it. I know I’m not the only one this has happened to!

Guidelines For Calling A Meeting

When is a meeting needed? Again, our guru states there are four tips to determine if a meeting is going to be worth your time (unless the boss calls it; at which point discretion becomes the better part of valor).

1. Has a goal been set to define a purpose for the meeting?

2. Has an agenda been created ahead of time to give attendees an opportunity to prepare?

3. Will the appropriate people be at the meeting so issues can be resolved without holding yet another meeting?

4. Could the information be more effectively delivered in a memo or e-mail?

If you can answer a definitive “yes” to the first three and “no” to the last, it will probably be a needed and worthwhile meeting.

Meetings are a necessary evil in our working lives and even at home. I have “calendar meetings” with my family so we can figure out who’s supposed to be where and when for the next week. We all lead busy lives and are bombarded with far too much information. Meetings are sometimes the only way to get on the same page.

As I write this, I am looking at my calendar for today and notice I have nearly back-to-back meetings all day … and it’s Monday! So, let’s just hope most of the folks calling these meetings have looked at an effective meeting Web site or a similar educational resource so they’ll keep them short and to the point!

Randy Gaddo, a retired Marine, is Director of Leisure Services (parks, recreation, library) in Peachtree City, Ga. Contact him at (770) 631-2542 or e-mail

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