We’ve all been in meetings that run over, where it becomes obvious during the first agenda item that whatever is at the end of the meeting is going to get very short shrift. Someone has been unrealistic in their planning, someone isn’t taking charge of the meeting…
A few years ago, I attended a conference with break-out sessions. You didn’t have to sign up ahead of time for the session you wanted to attend. At the end of the keynote, I headed off for the break-out that interested me most, with, as it turned out, 50 other people. The person facilitating this one-hour session began by asking everyone to “briefly introduce themselves.”
Oh, dear. How can 50 people introduce themselves in a one-hour session? To make matters worse, this was a room full of theatre people, not renowned for their brevity. The introductions alone took 45 minutes.
There was a host of mistakes here. I think what happened was this: the facilitator had decided he would open with introductions, and failed to adjust his plan when he saw how many people were there. Second, the first person to introduce himself went very long—maybe two minutes. There was an opportunity there to change course, but when the facilitator didn’t intercede, the long, tedious, and time-wasting round robin of introductions was underway, and we were all trapped.
When you’re in charge, you manage the time. Remember, “why are we all here” is paramount; all the planning and logistics are to support that function.