“I have never been in a group meeting where anything was accomplished, and a message was truly received.” This appears to be the tale of nearly all corporate workers, and it is undeniably true.
Effective meetings occur quite infrequently, but this need not be the case. We have compiled 10 tips that are sure to enhance your meeting strategy and yield optimal results, foremost among them being increased productivity. So, keep reading!
An important priority is to recognize that meetings are not intended for disseminating information; that is the purpose of emails, Slack messages, etc.
Meetings should be reserved for addressing questions, resolving issues that impede productivity, or collaboratively working on tasks. Therefore, if a meeting is unnecessary, it should be avoided.
This brings us to a couple of effective tips for ensuring a productive meeting:
What is the goal of the meeting?
Just like with anything important, you won’t achieve the best results if you’re uncertain about your goals. The first step before scheduling a meeting is understanding the purpose and objectives behind it.
What is your aim in organizing the meeting? Once that’s clear, you can then develop an agenda that aligns with the meeting’s goal.
Have an agenda
For every meeting, it is essential to have a meticulously considered and well-planned agenda. You should be capable of articulating the meeting’s intended outcome and its objectives clearly.
The agenda should be as detailed as possible, and it should be adhered to throughout the meeting. Also, make sure to share the agenda beforehand with the group so they can properly digest it and get the scope of the meeting, this way they can come prepared.
Have a strict time limit
Work with time! This cannot be emphasized enough. Meetings can easily become a complete waste of time due to rambling discussions, straying off-topic, and giving the impression that time is limitless.
While you might have ample time, your attendees would certainly prefer to be elsewhere. Ensure your meeting adheres to a schedule and sticks to it. This should also be reflected in your agenda.
Invite people that only need to be there
The meeting should target the individuals who need to attend. Gathering the entire staff for a meeting that relies on the involvement of only 6 people doesn’t make sense and doesn’t promote productivity.
The most effective approach would involve meeting specifically with these 6 people to ensure productivity.
Instead of sit-up meetings, do standup meetings
The sitting position can sometimes make people excessively comfortable, leading to reduced productivity. This doesn’t mean you should eliminate sit-down meetings entirely.
Instead, consider trying stand-up meetings. Such meetings can help participants engage more quickly and create a sense of urgency, as no one wants to stand for an extended period.
An essential aspect to consider is that discussions in meetings can become time-wasting when they are hijacked and veer off course.
As mentioned by a Reddit user, a crucial element for every meeting is what they call a ‘charismatic bulldog’ – someone who monitors the conversation and intervenes to gracefully redirect unrelated discussions, aiming to prevent any hard feelings.”
This is where the role of the charismatic bulldog becomes apparent, as the Reddit user continued to explain:
- Act as an enforcer and gently interrupt conversations that delve into excessive details. For instance, “I apologize for the interruption, but could we possibly address these details later?”
- Curtail discussions that could be better suited for one-on-one interactions after the meeting, unless they are genuinely urgent. For instance, “A, would you consider continuing this conversation with B afterwards?”
- Reinforce the awareness of the time and money these discussions consume for the company.
- During recurring meetings like standups or weekly sessions, actively observe the room to identify disengagement patterns. Identify individuals using laptops or phones. If this behavior extends beyond one person, it might be worth reconsidering the necessity of the meeting, a particular segment of it, or even redesigning the format to encourage broader engagement, or potentially splitting it into a separate meeting.”
The underlying point is, given the numerous distractions in meetings, having someone dedicated to managing these distractions can significantly enhance the focus and productivity of the meeting.
Get the key decision makers’ opinions before the meeting
Be mindful of the opinions of key decision-makers or influencers before proceeding with scheduling a meeting. Once you have obtained an informed perspective, streamline the process by devising a strategy that aligns your requirements with the provided information.
Subsequently, in the meeting, present this strategy to inform participants, inquire about their thoughts and objections, and encourage their contributions.
The Amazon rule
Jeff Bezos implemented a smart approach at Amazon, which he praised as the smartest move they’ve made.
- He removed PowerPoint to keep meetings short.
- Presenters create a memo of 6 pages or less. Everyone gets it during the meeting, not before.
- They start by silently reading for a few minutes. This way, everyone reads and doesn’t fake knowing things.
- Afterwards, they talk and make decisions.
You might want to try this method and see if it helps you too.
Have action points at the end
After meetings, it’s helpful to do a quick recap and jot down the key things discussed. This reminder keeps the meeting’s purpose fresh in mind, along with the action plan.
Then, make sure to send out these action points or make them easy to access for all attendees. This way, everyone can review and stay on track.
Just don’t have the meeting
You might not have anticipated this tip, but here it is: reconsider the necessity of a meeting. If the information can be easily conveyed, which is often the case (about 90 percent of the time), avoid scheduling a meeting.
Most meetings could be summarized in short emails and distributed. Alternatively, if necessary, aim for a meeting duration of 10-15 minutes at most.