“Meetings get a bad rap, and deservedly so—most are disorganized and distracted. But they can be a critical tool for getting your team on the same page.”
Everyone complains about meetings. I have yet to meet anyone who desires to have more meetings in their day. What it really comes down to is that people hate to waste time. You get meeting invites with no idea of what to expect. Or you get lucky enough to get a meeting invite containing a subject line, but you still have no clue what you are supposed to bring to the table. The unknown and apprehension collide, creating instant negativity. This culminates in people arriving at the meeting and plopping down in a chair with their arms crossed in a defensive posture, just waiting for someone to risk talking to them.
That’s not the best mind-set for the start of any meeting.
Let’s solve that. Not only can meetings be productive, they can become an important part of your daily workflow. Whether your meetings are a combination of (or exclusive to) in-person, conference calls, or video conferencing calls—following some simple rules can help gain efficiency and improve productivity.
As a meeting requestor, your responsibility is to lead the meeting and create a collaborative environment. By showing others how, you can inspire the people around you to push for the same.
1. Provide an agenda prior to the meeting
Help set expectations of what people need to prepare for so they are not taken by surprise.
2. Start the meeting on time
Be respectful of people’s time. Starting on time also helps ensure ending on time.
3. Set a goal of what you hope to achieve in the meeting
Focus everyone’s time by working toward the same objective and begin your meeting with this announcement.
4. Decision-making is not a democracy—make people aware of who has the final say
Eliminate the potential for never-ending discussions, set a time limit on discussions if that helps reduce churn.
5. Ban phones and laptops
Avoid distractions by requesting everyone put down their phone and close their laptop so everyone can focus on the meeting.
6. Record action items, with responsible party and due dates assigned
Accountability is key to a successful project. Understanding who owns which piece also helps if issues arise.
7. Keep minutes and disseminate after the meeting
Keep track of the major decisions impacting the project, at the very least. Communicating the meeting results puts everyone on the same page and is important for collaboration.
8. Follow up on action items prior to the next meeting
Create a closed-loop process to enable project success. Call the responsible party on video or visit in person to work through blockers or negotiate a new deadline. Solve issues prior to the next meeting.
Try it. Just start with one item. You’ll start noticing a difference right away. Learn to love your meetings.
For more tips on getting rid of useless meetings, download our guide on How to Own Your Meetings.