Improved Meeting Dynamics

And speaking of saved time… I find it very rare for a meeting to run productively for more than an hour unless it is a specific agenda of items needing to be hammered out — like the elements of a new contract or a construction meeting where progress reports are being reviewed. As you prepare your part of any meeting, help the process along by being concise and staying on subject. Remove unnecessary statistics and side stories. Ask yourself, “does anyone really need this information?” If your answer is no, kill it. Think about your kid’s last sports banquet and remember how angry you were at the speaker who droned on and on. Why would you aspire to be like that guy? Make your point and walk away. You will not only make friends you will set a good example.

Step 6 – Make Your Own List

As you observe what works in your monthly staff meeting or weekly division meeting, embrace the things that work and discard those that don’t. If your audience is fixed and the format is solid, keep it in tact. I knew one group that met every week and the people complained it was too often. The supervisor however wanted the consistency of weekly meetings so he instituted a process whereby the first meeting of the month was seated in a meeting room and an hour long. The next three occurred on the Monday of the following three weeks. All of them were held in his office and all members of the team stood — no sitting. He would briefly give news and updates and then they’d go around the room to each member for status and progress reports for the week. The meetings were a maximum of 15 minutes long. I’ve used this format several times since seeing it done so successfully and I have found it to be very beneficial.

A Positive End Result

Make no mistake here, many companies are meeting-heavy and often call a session at the drop of a hat just to clarify the simplest point. But even those meetings can become productive if the meeting dynamics are considered and steered by an active listening member who can interject the aforementioned ideas and keep things moving along. I’ve been in meetings where I took this role and we were virtually done in half the time. The person who called the meeting will exclaim, “And look at that, we are done in half the time.” I just smile with wonder and say, “Imagine that!”

Ronald D. Ciancutti is the purchasing manager for Cleveland Metroparks. He can be reached at

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