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About the Author

Eileen McDargh, Dana Point, CA, USA

Eileen McDargh is founder of McDargh Communications, a consulting and training company specializing in inner and interpersonal skill development for the purpose of improving the life of a business and the business of life. Visit Eileen at

Guest Article

Are Your Meetings MINM or JAM?
by Eileen McDargh

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When people come to your meetings, do they say "this is a meeting I never miss" ( MINM) or do they say "this is just another meeting." (JAM) Unproductive meetings gobble up an estimated 20% of corporate payrolls, throwing away $420 billion a year. American business people engage in an estimated 11 million meetings every workday. The average American executive spends 17 hours a week in meetings and more than 6 hours preparing. At an average salary of $45,000, more than $18,000 per executive is spent in meetings. Before you call another meeting, ask yourself: · what's the outcome I want from this meeting? The more people know what "deliverables" should come from the meeting, the more focus you can bring to the conversations. · Is there a more effective way of getting the results without a meeting? · who REALLY needs to be involved? · when is the optimum time to have it and what time limit shall I set? Sounds silly, but agendas make a huge difference. And forget 'old business". Who ever got excited about starting a meeting with "old business"! If it has relevancy to current situations, it is not "old"-it is pressing business. The skills of running an effective meeting can easily be learned. These skills involve gatekeeping (i.e. making sure that one person does not monopolize the meeting), summarizing the points, calling for a decisions, establishing protocols, and keeping discussion on track. However, there are times when one needs someone else to conduct a meeting. The more emotion that is connected to a meeting, the more complex the issues, the more it behooves you to consider using a facilitator. A wise facilitator creates a setting that makes it "safe" for people to speak their truth. A facilitator creates a process around whatever is the desired outcome of the meeting and can hold people to the task. When I have been brought in to facilitate, I make it a practice of interviewing the participants beforehand and creating a composite of the various "common threads" of concern. In this fashion, no one person is singled out and the meeting can get down to the important elements. Likewise, as an external facilitator, I have no political agenda or job security hanging in the balance. Thus, it frees me to focus totally on helping the participants reach their outcome. Time is the most precious commodity we have. Time-wasting meetings constitute the greatest theft of all. Conduct them well and judiciously and you'll hear people say, "We've got to START meeting like this!".


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