When does a meeting start?

Not a silly question, really - especially if you’re footing the bill.

When does a meeting start? Is it when everyone has finally arrived in the meeting room? Or perhaps when the group decide to start proceedings, even though one or more of the participants haven’t arrived yet?

The Action Meetings approach to more effective meetings is that a meeting starts when the need for it is identified. From that point on time and money are expended. There is much to do:

  • Who will be there and will add value (not just make up the numbers)?
  • What is the meetings purpose - in other words what outcomes must be achieved?
  • How long should it take? The default time seems to be an hour irrespective of whether an hour is the right length of time, too long or too short!
  • What about the venue?
  • What pre-meeting preparation must occur in order to achieve the desired outcomes?

The list above is not exhaustive - you may well be able to add to it - but it illustrates that a meeting starts well before the participants to get to eyeball one another.

Action Meetings is a method for designing and delivering effective meetings - the end-to-end meeting process not just the time spent in the room together.

3 Responses to “When does a meeting start?”

  1. Mary Says:

    What a load of rubbish! I can’t agree with most of the statements made in this post.

    A meeting starts when everyone is in the room and the first item on the agenda is discussed.

  2. Colin Cloete Says:

    How about online collaborative action meetings, where people can contribute from their PDA’s? Anytime, anywhere, in approx 30 minute bursts of action items.

    I like the idea of action meetings, where substance instead of titles drives the meeting.

  3. Mike Says:

    Yes - online collaborative meetings are “meetings” and the principles of Action Meetings apply equally to these meetings although they may require a slightly different practice to face to face meetings.
    The thing is, once there is an agreement that a meeting is a business process and should be treated as one - then that mindset leads to a different way of running meetings.
    So yes, an online collaborative meeting starts at the same instance as a face to face meeting.

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