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How to Avoid Meeting Madness?

  • 1.  How to Avoid Meeting Madness?

    Posted 01-18-2023 12:46 PM

    Meetings can be a plague for many as they stand in the way of getting real work done, or this is a perception. For some, attending meetings becomes their work.  How do you ensure that meetings are effective and efficient?

    One simple policy is to ensure that every meeting has a clear agenda and clear end-in-mind. These help the meeting devolving into a talk shop and help ensure only the people that need to present are present. What have others found effective for mitigating meeting madness?

    Mitch Winkler P.E., M.ASCE
    Houston, TX

  • 2.  RE: How to Avoid Meeting Madness?

    Posted 01-19-2023 12:30 PM
    I think one thing that can also help is having an "ends by" time to respect everyone's time while not using that as a "goes until" time. In other words, if the agenda is completed in 45 minutes, there is nothing wrong with ending it then instead of dragging it out for the full hour.

    Heidi C. Wallace, P.E., M.ASCE
    Tulsa, OK

  • 3.  RE: How to Avoid Meeting Madness?

    Posted 01-23-2023 08:25 AM
    The following may help:

    - Strong chairman of the meeting. He should lead and not let the meeting go on tangent.
    - Limit on time.
    - Everyone in the meeting should be given a specific time, say 5 minutes, to give their point of view. No interruptions in between
    - Chairman of the meeting to then summarize and give the possible out come / decisions and seek consensus on one
    - If consensus is not possible then decide by majority

    Tahir M. Hayat, P.E., M.ASCE
    Lahore, Pakistan

    Tahir Hayat Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE
    Chief Executive

  • 4.  RE: How to Avoid Meeting Madness?

    Posted 02-03-2023 04:20 PM
    I agree, Tahir. A strong chair ensures that everyone has a chance to be heard but no one is allowed to talk too much.

    William McAnally Ph.D., P.E., D.CE, D.NE, F.ASCE
    Columbus MS

  • 5.  RE: How to Avoid Meeting Madness?

    Posted 01-23-2023 08:25 AM
    SNACKS!.....and a good attitude about the work, and a good team servant leading the group, it takes more, I believe than an agenda and an end time for a good meeting to take place, a team leader with passion for the project is persuasive, and it motivates......fyi..

    Humberto Gallegos, PE, PHD, LSIT
    Cal Baptist University Instructor
    East Los Angeles College Professor

    Humberto Gallegos Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE
    California Baptist University
    Riverside CA

  • 6.  RE: How to Avoid Meeting Madness?

    Posted 01-23-2023 08:48 AM
    I can definitely agree with a clear agenda and a strong meeting leader. It helps to have someone that can steer the conversation back to the topic, since there always seems to be one or two people who will derail the discussion. It also helps to restate the central goal of the agenda periodically.

    One recommendation that I can think of is to end meetings when they are done! There seems to be this tendency for meeting leaders to try to drag out the meeting if it doesn't go to its end time. I've even seen meetings where the leaders felt it appropriate to tell knock-knock jokes until there were questions and discussion. Just because a meeting is scheduled doesn't mean that you are owed all of that valuable time. If you get no questions or get the goal accomplished early, no one will be upset by being let out of the meeting early. In fact, most will appreciate the chance to get back to real work!

    It also helps to identify the type of meeting ahead of time. Is it informative? Then you should be prepared if people don't have questions, because most people will just accept changes even if they appreciate the opportunity to provide input. Sometimes it helps to have canned questions that a member from your team can ask to "break the ice". And you know what? The dumber the question, the better. Many people hesitate to ask questions out of a concern for looking foolish, so ask some foolish questions of yourself to let them feel more comfortable asking you their own less-foolish questions.

    If you have a goal-oriented meeting (solving a problem, identifying a problem, etc), send out the agenda beforehand and give the meeting goers homework before the meeting. Try to encourage as much research and fact-finding before the meeting as possible to maximize the background that they have on the topic before the meeting. You could also provide a worksheet or other material.

    Ronny Lackey L.S., M.ASCE
    Survey Section Director
    TX DOT
    Austin TX

  • 7.  RE: How to Avoid Meeting Madness?

    Posted 01-30-2023 11:17 AM
    Start the meeting exactly on time - state the objective of the meeting and quickly go over the written agenda.
    Keep the agenda specific to the objective and keep tangents to a minimum. The agenda and issue should limit the time in the meeting. I have learned over time that staff will come a few minutes early for chatting since the meeting is designed to address a specific issue/problem/concern and idle off-topic discussions will be limited and not acceptable. This approach reinforced by a professional demeanor will set the stage for all meetings.

    David Johnson P.E., F.ASCE
    City Engineer
    Huntersville NC

  • 8.  RE: How to Avoid Meeting Madness?

    Posted 02-03-2023 01:46 PM
    Once the attendees, dates, subject matter and objectives are defined, the practice I learned as a meeting lead (especially recurring meeting) was
    1) Send out meeting agenda ahead of time. 
    2) Have those presenting provide as much information/data available ahead of time. (Not all would be complete)
    3) Send out meeting data for review, comments and questions.
    4) Provide pre-meeting comments and questions to attendees.

    The pre-meeting discussions addressing comments and questions freed up the meeting from that usual "off the top of my head" comments that lead to 5-10 minutes of _____. Allowed folks to contemplate their responses, research, change their minds or fortify comprehension.

    This ensured that, as a group, we came to the meeting with answers and left with more action than questions.

    James Williams P.E., M.ASCE
    POA&M Structural Engineering, PLC
    Yorktown, VA

  • 9.  RE: How to Avoid Meeting Madness?

    Posted 02-05-2023 01:33 PM
    I check if meetings are organized from upfront and behind.

    • Before the meeting starts, everyone involved should know what the meeting is about, and how long it will be. That way, all the people have reasonable time to prepare and contribute
    • During the work meeting, at least one person should be taking notes regarding achievements since the last meeting and goals for the next one, in terms of said agenda

    I have been the one taking notes at meetings both during my Capstone project and as a club Co-secretary. For the former, being the lead organizer and documenter meant my main responsibility was keeping everyone up-to-speed on sub-projects and the team's deadlines. For the latter, since the meetings involved ideas for events during the year, someone needed to write down all the details so the whole group could remember each event and all the dates.

    Alexander Granato A.M.ASCE
    Bexley OH

  • 10.  RE: How to Avoid Meeting Madness?

    Posted 02-07-2023 07:54 AM
    True 💯

    Rumaan Sharief N S.M.ASCE

  • 11.  RE: How to Avoid Meeting Madness?

    Posted 02-08-2023 07:54 AM
    A helpful strategy to avoid "meeting madness" is evaluating whether the subject or problem is actually worthy of a meeting.

    Perhaps the leaders are trying to avoid taking a decision or face the consequences of such a decision based on the fact that it was "a collective decision".

    I believe it is helpful if the group clearly understands the procedures to evaluate a specific subject; otherwise, the interventions and case-based examples will take forever.

    Luis Vasquez-Varela Aff.M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer

  • 12.  RE: How to Avoid Meeting Madness?

    Posted 02-14-2023 07:58 AM

    First of all time management is necessary, every participant must come on time atleast half an hour earlier, clear vision of the meeting and solution of the problem is sought. Data presentation is needed and feedback must be studying. Responsable persons only should speak. If you don't know what is going on keep silent. Your thoughts will guide. 

    Alex Thomas R.Eng, C.Eng, M.ASCE
    Engineer Vistar Associates
    CochinAlexThomasR.Eng, C.Eng, M.ASCEIndia

  • 13.  RE: How to Avoid Meeting Madness?

    Posted 02-21-2023 04:08 AM

    Can be avoided by preparing clear working paper

    Tayyab Yaqoob S.M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer