As the role of the CIO grows and becomes more strategic, meetings become even more important. In a great meeting, groups of people quickly update one another and collaborate to create new ideas for growing a company and its revenues. Bad meetings, though, sap productivity and employee morale. Here are a few rules that CIOs can follow to hold productive meetings:
- Have an agenda. Building an agenda for the meeting forces the leader to give some forethought to the meeting, ensuring that it’s productive. It also gives the meeting’s leader a chance to get input on the agenda before it’s finalized.
- Circulate the agenda. Sharing the agenda with the meeting’s attendees in advance lets them prepare so that they can be more effective participants. When attendees come with ideas and thoughts prepared, more can get accomplished in less time.
- Hold only planned meetings. While emergencies that require meetings do occasionally pop up, having a group of crucial employees sitting around a conference table is usually not the best way to solve problems. Furthermore, unplanned meetings tend to be less effective than ones that have a pre-set agenda and prepared attendees.
- Have strict time lines. Meetings that start on time and end on time help the attendees stay focused on the topic instead of on their rapidly slipping schedules.
- Limit attendee counts. Having too many people at a meeting is damaging in multiple ways. Every unnecessary person who is there costs money — both in terms of the time that he or she spends at the meeting as well as the time that he or she spends preparing for it. Groups that are too large can also end up stifling participation, because some attendees will be less willing to speak up in front of a lot of people.
- Change the milieu. Meetings don’t have to be held in a darkened room with a PowerPoint and everyone sitting around an oblong table. Holding them in a hallway or server room with everyone standing can make them move more quickly. They may also increase engagement, since it’s harder to doze off or daydream while standing up. On the other hand, moving the meeting outside or to a cafe provides a new setting, which can stimulate a different type of thinking.