We’d all like to spend less time in meetings and more time getting stuff done, right? Here’s a handy little trick for keeping event planning meetings under control.
We have a client with a committee of eight people tasked with planning a conference and expo for their university. Everyone works together off a project timeline – a detailed list of what has to happen and when, and who is responsible.
Meetings have been dragging on and on, including task updates like:
Action item: Draft postcard with graphic designer
Update: “Well, I called Becky, and she said she could do it, but not until next week. There’s some question about whether she’ll have to charge for her time or if she can just help with this, so I emailed Joe. I still need to send her the logos but…”
(You get the idea)
Action item: Send email inviting departments to exhibit
Update: “I sent you all my draft. Did you get my email, because only one of you replied? I’m sorry I didn’t get this out last week. I know I’m really holding it up, but my wife was sick…”
We value our client’s time and our own. This was getting ridiculous. We needed to shut.it.down.
Enter drill sergeant* Paige. The very next time we met, our team implemented this technique:
Paige read out each action item for tasks past due, currently due, and due before the next meeting. The person assigned to a task can reply with one of three possible answers:
- In Progress
- Needs Discussion
Maggie (or a committee member) noted what still needed discussion. The balance of the meeting time was spent on that discussion.
* Why drill sergeant? Well, this took some retraining. It meant politely interrupting a team member’s monologue to say, “Please just report out with ‘done’, ‘in progress’, or ‘needs discussion’.” Or “sounds like it needs discussion. Let’s note that and keep going.” Over time, the team got the hang of it and the reporting went faster and faster.
Now we make it practice to use this process with every committee meeting…no drill sergeant attire required!