By, Alex Charles, Xerox Public Relations

Years ago, I took a professional profile assessment that revealed my dislike for meetings. With meetings so essential, I respectfully disagree with my assessment and would like to add the needed qualifier.  I dislike unstructured meetings.

The free-for- all meeting is not an opportunity for a natural introvert to shine.  So when I’m faced with putting together a meeting or attending a meeting, I go through a checklist to keep my focus.    The following are things that help me get the most out of my meetings.  

Pass/Fail– If I’m considering putting a meeting on a calendar, I first ask myself “do we really need a meeting?”  Or can I achieve my objective through an email or quick phone call?

Maestro- Because it’s so easy to go off on tangents and meander, there needs to be someone who keeps the meeting on task.  Think of this person as the one who turns up the music during a speech that goes a little long during an awards show.  Rather than gradually turning up music, the maestro might use the often used “we’ll take that offline” route.

Time limit– We each have competing priorities and a finite number of hours in the day.  Meetings should have a hard beginning and hard end.  When a time limit is not indicated, the pace may become languid and sluggish.  When there’s a clock ticking, participants are more apt to get things accomplished.

Essential Players– Have you ever sat on a meeting and wondered why you were invited?  One of the keys to a successful meeting is knowing who can contribute and who can benefit from attending. If participants of a meeting can successfully put a call on hold and field a second call and jump back on the first call unnoticed, are they really integral to the conversation?

 Meeting participants should be able to share information, benefit from information or ideally a combination of both.

Today, meetings are unavoidable with teams separated by varying time zones and geographies.  To get the most out of your meetings, use these tips to help you focus and maximize the time spent with your teammates.

 If you would like to discuss further, we can discuss “offline”.