Meetings are a central part of our work environment. But why does it feel like some of them take way too long with no real meaning? Remarkable meetings begin from the moment you start planning them.
"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
Before the pandemic, we would sit in a conference room with our teammates to go over a series of points that honestly would've been better as an email. This scenario is translated into our current virtual landscape.
The amount of money spent yearly on meetings is massive, let alone bad ones. If you're going to be running a meeting, read these tips to start having great meetings people want to attend and be part of!
Should you have this meeting?
Sometimes, the best meeting is the one that didn't happen at all. Certain things, like status updates, are better communicated with an email or Slack message.
Simple as that.
Prepare a plan
Meetings tend to get sidetracked and go for hours and hours when the topic to discuss is something ambiguous and abstract like: "How can we get more sales?"
Break down the topics to be more precise in the issues you want to attack. For example: if "How can we get more sales?" could be something like this:
"Strategies to increase sales:" goes straight to the point.
And then, you could cut up that topic in smaller ones:
1.1 Current situation
1.2 Opportunities to increase more sales
Solve technical issues
Hasn't it happened to you that a meeting you're attending started 15 minutes late because the organizer was having issues with Zoom?
Be in the room AT LEAST 10 minutes before the meeting begins to take care of any technical issues with audio, video, or learning how to share your screen and move around the app.
If your setup rarely changes, i.e., you use your company's Laptop and frequently have meetings on Zoom, you only need to do this once or twice.
Make it fast
Getting people's attention is difficult (and expensive). Extraordinary meetings aren't too long, but neither too short. It mostly comes down to the topics to discuss and how engaged the participant is.
Try to get people's attention with subjects that are fast in nature, but need to be addressed at a meeting. If the topic is long, dissect it and assign shorter times for them.
Make an introduction
Briefly go over the topics and clarify how much time you want to spend on them. People must know this so they can communicate accordingly. Try to spend as little time here as you can, but you need to ask the participants if they understood every point.
What does this mean? It means that you have the ability to ask someone to be silent and let the other one talk, and also call them out if they're getting sidetracked or the time set for that topic is over.
You need to ask for permission to do this, though, and also give the disclaimer that it's all in good faith, It might be awkward to order your boss, but hey, it's crucial to make the best out of the time you've got.
Set the pace
Topics have different weights on a meeting. Your mission is to know how important they are and carry out the times you set for every one of them. This means that you can ask the people to wrap up their thoughts or elaborate more on them once you have mod powers, depending on the topic..
Your attendants are probably busy people. If the meeting is not interactive enough, they might not even remember what you talked about.
To avoid losing all the progress you made at a meeting, assign an agenda manager that writes down what happened at the time.
Taking notes will help you summarize the things you discussed and send a follow-up afterward.
Send your notes
After the meeting is over, don't forget to send your notes to your participants. It's really important to at least try to get everyone on the same page. It's likely that they won't read it, but the gesture's still there.
Follow up on the topics through email or Slack
Don't hold another meeting to follow up on the actionable from the last one! That's the vicious cycle we're trying to avoid.
Ask for status via email, Slack, Trello, or your project management tool of choice. Set yourself reminders to follow up, too. That will help you stay on top of things and be proud of just how productive meetings can be
These tips, while simple, cover most of the problems of meetings. Use them, see which ones are working for you, and make any changes you deem necessary. You can slowly add these tips to your flow or all at once!
Do you have any secret tip you'd like to share? Leave them down in the comments!