Let’s be honest: most of us don’t like meetings. Meetings often feel unproductive and like a waste of everyone’s time, yet we rarely do anything to make our meetings better. Here are nine guidelines you can implement today to make your meetings more valuable.
#1. Do we really need to meet?
If there’s no purpose, there’s no meeting. When we take up people’s time, there should be a specific reason or objective.
#2. Who really needs to be at this meeting?
If you can’t feed a meeting with two pizzas, it’s too large. -Jeff Bezos
Meetings can become costly and inefficient when there are too many people involved. Every person in the room or on the call should be there to contribute. To fight this, try using the Jeff Bezos’s two pizza rule.
#3. Meetings are not for information sharing.
If there are materials to share, this should be done prior to the meeting. Consider LinkedIn, where they eliminated presentations: “At LinkedIn, we have essentially eliminated the presentation. In lieu of that, we ask that materials that would typically have been presented during a meeting be sent out to participants at least 24 hours in advance so people can familiarize themselves with the content,” said LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner.
#4. Have an agenda and stick to it.
Share an agenda before the meeting so others can be prepared, and keep the group on task. It’s helpful to designate a facilitator to keep the discussion focused and moving forward. Meetings can be hijacked or get offtrack without a strong voice to keep the group on topic. Tip: Use the concept of a parking lot so people feel heard, but the conversation can return to purpose of the meeting. Don’t feel the need to address the parking lot items in the meeting, but instead include them in the notes, or as action items so they can be revisited at the proper time.
#5. Start on time.
Set the expectation that the meeting will start on time even if everyone is not in attendance. Communicate that this is out of respect for everyone’s time and ask that people notify others if they will be late.
#6. Try keeping the meeting short and don’t be afraid to end early.
A lot can be covered in a short period, and research suggests our attention can be held for about 15-minutes before we tune out.
Related: ever wonder why TED Talks are 18-minutes? The Science Behind TED’s 18-Minute Rule
In addition, your coworkers will leave feeling productive and positive when a meeting finishes early. Remember the goal of the meeting is not to use all of the scheduled time, but to address a specific objective.
#7. No multi-tasking or devices unless necessary for the meeting.
Don’t allow others to waste other people’s time by not giving your full attention to the discussion. Tip: If the meeting includes remote attendees, stick to video conferencing to help reduce the urge to multitask.
#8. Agree to, and distribute, action items or decisions at the conclusion of the meeting.
Always document and share action items or decisions. No matter how good the discussion, in order for it to make a difference it must make it outside the four walls of the meeting.
#9. Don’t feel bad about calling people out on any of the above.
Accountability is critical to lasting success, and people will respect you for keeping them, and others, accountable.
So who’s ready for a great meeting?
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