Are you a big fan of impromptu meetings via Skype, Instant Messaging or other technology? These meetings seem to be laser focused because the meeting originator contacts you for a specific reason and has some targeted questions already at hand. Therefore, your ad hoc meeting has a clear-cut purpose, and resolution and closure is fast and painless.

So, how do you take this paradigm and apply it to the biggest time guzzler in most people’s day—the inefficient meeting?

Here’s how. Every meeting should have an agenda and specific objectives. This information should be communicated to participants well in advance so they arrive prepared. Your meeting should also be run by a facilitator who brings well-formed questions to the table; these are considered time-management “gold.” Every item on your agenda should have specific, corresponding questions that are used to elicit information and move you on to the next item. For example, if your project has the agenda item Risk Planning, some questions might include:

  • What are the top risks having the greatest impact to the business? What is the likelihood of occurrence?
  • What are the mitigation strategies for each of these high risks? If mitigation is not viable, what is the contingency plan?
  • Has every potential risk area been identified (technology, business, project, resource, customer, operational)?

An interesting thing occurs when the objectives and agenda are clear, the participants come prepared, and the facilitator keeps the discussion reined-in through the use of thoughtful questions: meeting objectives are met and meetings are adjourned on-time or early. Participants think, Wow! We finished everything on the agenda and I’ve even got some spare time to put back into my day…I love it. As the meeting owner or facilitator, you might even find participants actually look forward to your meetings as the most productive time of their workday. How cool is that?

– See more at: