South-Western - Management  
Meetings are a Matter of Precious Time
Topic Managing Individuals and Teams
Key Words

time, time management, meetings, managers, goals, communication, organization, delegation

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News Story

American business has a love/hate relationship with meetings. We just can’t seem to live without them. But say the word “meeting” and listen to the audible groans, see the rolled eyes, feel the collective sigh.

We all know the familiar scene. The talk goes on, the long stories get told, the random points get made. The discussion meanders, digresses, and finally sputters to a halt. Meetings just take up too much precious time. And time is money. According to this article, time is the most valuable resource of a business, one that should be spent as carefully as money. In fact, it is “the most perishable good in the world.” That is largely because it cannot be replenished—you can usually get more money, but you can never get more time.

So to clear the slate before wading through the next bumbled meeting, we might start by admitting lost time opportunities, thinking about what we could have done with that time, then making some changes. 

What makes meetings work?  A start and stop time, clear goals, a strong leader, and engaged attendees who collectively take responsibility for the outcome. The article offers tips for those calling meetings:

  • Value the time, decide how you’re going to spend it, and why
  • Make objectives clear
  • Decide what should be accomplished in this meeting
  • What are the costs?  How many participants are really needed?  How much time is truly needed?
  • Be responsible for the success or failure of the meeting, and take responsibility for mistakes
  • Think about the other functions the meeting may serve, beyond immediate goals
  • Admit that meetings can act as social connectors and networking tools
  • Above all, don’t call a meeting and just “hope that magic happens” – it won’t
  1. How is time management addressed in today’s business climate?
  1. What are some common techniques for good time management in business?  
  1. What is the purpose of the business meeting?
  1. List some qualities and techniques of a good meeting leader. What should this coordinator do, and avoid doing?     
  1. What other intangible rewards can come out of meetings, beyond accomplishing goals and enriching production?  

“Meetings are a matter of precious time.” The New York Times, Jan 18, 2009 v158 i54559 p2(L).  

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