5 Most Important Minutes ... Before Every Meeting

First in a series on 5-Minute Solutions

Can five minutes spell the difference between a successful meeting and a waste of time?  You bet!  Allow me to explain which five minutes matter the most, and how to make those precious five work for you.

Meetings are a basic fact of our work lives. They are our primary vehicle for collaboration, and most of us genuinely like collaboration.  The problem with meetings is that they eat away at your limited time, and they are often far less efficient or purposeful than they should be. As an attendee, the content and structure of meetings may be out of your control. But how you think about participating in a meeting is something you control completely.

Your first and most important job as a meeting attendee is to get clear on why you are attending. You should be able to define your desired outcome for every meeting you attend.  That’s where the 5-minute approach comes in.

Here’s the plan: Set aside five minutes in advance of every meeting you go to.  During this five minutes, write down the most important goals you want to achieve through your attendance. Ask yourself, “What do I want to have at the end of this meeting that I do not have going into it.”  For most meetings, your list of goals will be quite short … often containing only one item.   

Five minutes set aside to define your meeting goals can quickly become a habit because it’s a highly reinforcing exercise.  WIth this approach you will see and feel a difference in the impact of your meetings on your performance.  And you will have a greater sense of focus during meetings because you'll begin them knowing what you must accomplish in them.

I encourage clients to make a habit of this 5-minute meeting planning by doing it the same way for every meeting.  Set aside your five minutes just before you head into a meeting; at the moment you agree to attend each meeting; or at the beginning of each day, when you are reviewing what's ahead.  

This five-minute strategy won’t make boring meetings go away, but it will insure that, even when the topic is less than scintillating, you'll secure the things you need for after the meeting ends. 

Next up … “Five Most Important Minutes Before Every Airplane Flight”  

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