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Dick Clark's Legacy To Business Leaders: Shorten Your Meetings

April 20, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 91

Obituaries for Dick Clark reviewed how he changed the popular music scene by hosting American Bandstand for decades, helping singers catapult from obscurity to stardom. Also, the post mortem write ups spotlighted Clark as a true "media mogul," holding comprehensive sway through Dick Clark Productions. With boundless creativity and limitless energy-consistent with his perpetual nickname as "the world's oldest teenager"-Clark excelled in radio, TV, theater, and even the restaurant business.

How did he get so much done? What could be considered a major key to his astounding accomplishments? Quite possibly, the answer might lie in his unique rule for corporate meetings, which he chaired thousands of times. Consider his inflexible regulation: No meeting could last longer than twelve minutes.

Early in his management career, Clark had noticed that many organizations wasted time, talent, and money by allowing meetings to extend far longer than necessary. He determined that would not happen under his supervision.

Even if you cannot match his stringent standard, chances are good that you can shorten your meetings considerably. Use these seven simple steps.

Announce the reduced duration

So, weekly staff meetings have lasted an hour. That's the tradition. Well, as an old saying goes, the task expands to fill the time allowed. As a result, participants tend to feel obligated to keep going until the hour is up. Often they will take twice as long as necessary to make their reports or comments.

Change that mind set by announcing, "Beginning next Tuesday, staff meetings will start at 9:00 a.m. and end promptly at 9:30 a.m."

Start on time, regardless of how many have arrived

Joe headed the finance committee at the medical center where he served on the board. As head of a local corporation, he had formed the habit of opening a meeting regardless of who was present or absent. When he started that practice with the finance committee, habitual latecomers felt embarrassed to walk into the meeting in progress. By his third month of chairing the meeting, Joe saw a room full of members ready to tend to business.

As we all know, a twenty minute meeting will stretch into thirty minutes if the session begins ten minutes late. You can eliminate that meeting expansion by starting exactly on the dot. As in Joe's case with the medical center committee, people will change their behavior quickly.

Omit the time honored reading of the minutes

Today we can distribute minutes of last month's meeting electronically several days ahead of the next meeting, and request that corrections or additions arrive via e-mail prior to the following meeting. Not only will you reduce meeting time, you will relieve listeners of what is customarily a dull recitation.

Allow no interruptions

Your half-hour meeting (or twelve minutes if you aspire to Dick Clark's practice) will allow no interruptions except for true emergencies. Sally cannot check her text messages and respond to them, as she has been accustomed to doing. Fred cannot leave the room "just to make a quick phone call." Arnie and Ed will have to stop their side conversations. Too, no one can enter the meeting and motion for a participant to leave.

Don't provide refreshments

You may consider yourself a fine host by providing refreshments. Think, though, about the damage you may be doing to the communication climate. You could give the impression this is not much more than a social gathering. Think also of the time lost with Mary walking around the table to pass the cream to Jack for his coffee, and with Marvin leaving the conference table to get a soft drink refill. And have you noticed that when Marvin returns, he says: "Hey, gang, catch me up with what I missed when I was over there dropping those ice cubes in my glass, which kept me from hearing you."

Eliminate chairs

Stand up meetings have found their way into the corporate scene with good results. That's not surprising. Very few people will ramble on endlessly when their feet get tired. Not only that, they assume their colleagues will resent their wordiness because lengthening the meeting means lengthening the time away from a good chair.

Schedule meetings when people are in a hurry

Legendary leader General Douglas McArthur scheduled meetings just a few minutes before his men would break for dinner. He sensed correctly that few of them would want to prolong the discussions then. Likewise, you can schedule your meeting just prior to lunch or closing time. Everybody will be glad to start promptly, pose questions and statements concisely, and reach consensus without delay.

In closing: You may be using some of these tactics already, and after evaluating the others covered in this overview you are ready to try them. When you shorten your meetings, morale and productivity will increase, which could lead to greater profits. And my guess is that Dick Clark would be delighted to applaud the improvements you have made in your business communication.

Bill Lampton, Ph.D., President of Championship Communication, is known for "Helping You Finish in First Place!" His career includes twenty-three years in management at the vice presidential level, giving him solid preparation for his role as a leading business consultant. In serving clients, he first identifies an organization's major barriers to communication, by starting with the DISC Personal Style Analysis instrument, and then holding confidential follow up interviews. Next, he works with the corporation's leaders to design a customized communication training program, often spanning a year or more, to address the identified needs. His top-tier client list includes Gillette, Duracell, Procter & Gamble, Celebrity Cruises, Ritz-Carlton Cancun, British Columbia Legal Management Association, CenturyTel, and the National Pest Management Association. He wrote a popular book, The Complete Communicator: Change Your Communication, Change Your Life! Visit his Web site and sign up for his newsletter, "Winning Words and Ways": Call him: 678-316-4300 Subscribe to his weekly podcast, "Communication Consulting Radio":

Source: EzineArticles
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