Stop Meeting Madness!!! Plan Your Meeting

Planning Your Meeting

The medical groups that achieve a higher level of meeting effectiveness devote time to planning their meetings.

Meeting planning includes several steps:

  1. Establishing a Meeting Schedule.
  2. Setting a Meeting Duration.
  3. Creating a useful Agenda.

Meeting Schedule

One way to increase meeting attendance is to establish schedule of meeting dates well in advance. Many groups set up their meetings on a particular date each month (e.g, second Tuesday of each month) or select specific dates. The important thing is to develop this schedule well in advance of the meeting (we suggest 12 months out) so that individuals make sure they consider these dates as they set their individual schedules.

Each group will need to determine the best time to meet, but be realistic about the start time for the meeting. Unfortunately some individuals feel they have “won” if they are the last person to show up to a meeting, because then they don’t have to sit around and wait for others to arrive so the meeting can start. In other cases some groups know that in greater than 70% of the time they won’t be able to start their meetings until, say, 6 pm, but schedule them for 5:30 pm for the off chance that people might arrive early. The bottom line is that this is disrespectful to the people who do show up on time and can often result in a game of “who can be last.”

If you know that most of the time people will be late, move the meeting start time back to a reasonable time. Attendance at group meetings will improve if the individuals know that meetings will start and end on time.

Meeting Duration

Many medical groups have lapsed into poor meeting behaviors that result in very long meetings. We have heard that some groups endure 4-5 hour meetings.

Poor meeting behaviors include:

  • Arriving late.
  • Arriving unprepared.
  • Too many issues.
  • No prioritization of issues.
  • The discussion straying off track.
  • The presentation of reports that could be sent out in written form.

This and following articles will address these issues in turn.  However, the first step to make meetings more efficient and reduce the amount of time you spend at meetings is to set a goal for how long you would like to meet, and then do what you have to do to achieve that goal.

Setting a time goal forces you to consider ways to jettison inefficient parts of the meeting and put into place good meeting techniques that you might not otherwise implement.

For regularly scheduled meetings, my recommendation is that groups set a goal to complete their meetings in two hours (or less).  After two hours participants are usually exhausted and little productive work is done.

Naturally there will be times when the time goal cannot be achieved, but most groups are surprised that when they initiate good meeting management tools and techniques they finish group business much more quickly than before.  Set a meeting duration goal and do what you have to do to meet that goal.

Creating Useful Agendas

We will address how to create useful agendas in our next article.


Please contact me if you’d like to discuss this post.

Will Latham

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