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Meetings should be purposeful, short and as creative as possible, say experts

March 12, 2001

Managers spend up to 50 percent of their time in meetings, says one study. Another study says that if managers spend more than 25 percent of their time in meetings, it's a sign of poor organization. "It would follow then that most managers are subject to poor organization," said author Harvey McKay in a recent column in the Tennessean.

McKay, author of "The New York Times" best-seller "Pushing the Envelope," offered some simple rules for ensuring meetings are meaningful.

1. Have an agenda. Make sure there's a point for the gathering, whether it's to initiate action or gather information, he says.

2. Set a time limit. To stay within the limit, stick to the topic at hand, McKay says. "If other issues arise, determine whether everyone at the meeting needs to address them. If not, schedule a separate discussion.

3. Involve no more individuals than necessary. "Attendance by the multitudes should be reserved for events that actually affect the multitudes."

4. Be creative. Schedule the meeting at different times of the day. Ask different people to run the meeting.

5. Alter the setting. Give the conference room a rest, McKay suggests. "Ever notice how much gets done at the 'meeting after the meeting' out in the parking lot?'" McKay queries.

6. Make the meeting a springboard for action. Do something. Decide something. Change something.

7. Conclude with a brief synopsis--assignments, deadlines and accomplishments. "Send the troops off with an action calendar and a positive attitude," McKay says. "Even if the news isn't positive."