There’s no avoiding meetings completely, even if you don’t work at a corporation.

I spent two evenings this week at meetings and I was reminded yet again how inefficient meetings always are.

Meetings are among the worst forms of communication because they don’t encourage true listening or actual conversation.

This classic “ad” would apply to most meetings:

If I was in charge of meetings, here’s what I would implement (many of these ideas come from Seth Godin, with several of my own thrown in):

*No chairs. If everyone stands, the meeting will go much quicker and people will be alert.

*No food.

*Each presenter only gets 4 minutes, tops. Use a timer. The average person speaks at a rate of 150 words per minute so in 4 minutes that’s 600 words. That’s plenty. Make sure to include what you think the next action step is. Give a written summary of your presentation to the meeting leader at the end.

*If someone arrives more than two minutes later than the last person to arrive, they have to put $10 in the coffee fund.

*The organizer of the meeting has to email a summary of the meeting to the attendees right after the end of the meeting, along with the next action steps.

*If you find you aren’t adding value to the meeting, leave. You can read the summary later. I’ve been exercising this option more and more often (of course I never get email summaries). I left one of the meetings early this week because it dragged on so long I was in danger of missing an important Lost episode. No meeting is worth that.

*No “what does everyone think?” questions. Save those for email.

*No “We can’t possibly decide on this tonight” statements. Meetings should have a specific agenda and end with a decision. If that’s not possible, then you’re not ready for a meeting and need more preparation.

*If it’s an informational meeting, make sure the Q & A at the end is highly focused. Nothing drains the energy out of a meeting more than a Q & A session that is open ended and where people are allowed to hold forth at length without a time limit. Much better to end the meeting decisively.

Yeah, I’d be highly delusional if I thought that meetings would ever resemble something like this. But just imagine if every meeting adopted even ONE of these tactics. There might be less notes like these afterwards:

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