I personally believe that many people hate meetings. But when they are there you might as well make use out of them! Make sure that any meetings you have are also fruitful. As a remote worker, one of the most popular issues I’ve encountered is being a member of teams that have weekly meetings for the sake of having meetings, with the same people attending when they don’t need to be there.
In most cases, I’ve left digital meetings feeling like I didn’t accomplish enough to warrant a 30-minute group chat rather than a few instant messages.
The meetings that have proven to be the most fruitful are those in which we have used the opportunity to address and resolve issues that are impeding progress. This is where the power of a group’s ideas will really shine.
Unfortunately, I’ve spent much too much time in “meetings” listening to people talk about what they’ve done/will do because, unless I’m the team boss, I don’t need to know that detail.
This is just for this remote period of time, but in general, here are some steps to make use of almost every meeting and make them more productive.
You Need A Goal
Having a clear aim and agenda means that the meeting accomplishes its objectives in the time allotted. We risk leaving the meeting with no concrete results or action items if we do not do so.
This always leads to a subsequent meeting that should have been avoided.
Before we define the meeting goal, we must first determine if a meeting is the most efficient way to achieve the goal.
Here’s a flowchart to help you figure out whether a meeting is necessary.
Most meeting objectives fall into one of four categories: seeking input or consent, aligning, making a decision, and sharing knowledge that necessitates urgent action.
A meeting isn’t needed in the majority of cases when transmitting an update.
“The whole meeting could’ve been an email,” I’m sure we’ve all read.
Having a clearly established meeting target that all attendees agree on helps to prevent potential scenarios like this. Make sure the meeting target is straightforward and that all attendees are on the same page.
Be Transparent With The Agenda
A well-planned agenda can cut meeting time by up to 80%. Despite this, more than 63 percent of all meetings lack clear objectives or agendas.
Agendas are important for effective meetings because they help attendees set goals, encourage attendees to add agenda items as required, and predict the length of the meeting.
Build an agenda layout or blueprint that fits best for the team and its immediate partners by taking inventory of the most popular types of meetings. The agenda should detail what would occur during the meeting in order to accomplish the meeting’s objectives.
It’s also a good idea to let your guests know ahead of time whether you intend to have them present or share a lot of details during the meeting so they can prepare.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the “deer in headlights” expression on someone’s face as the facilitator summons them to present something they weren’t expecting.
Meetings should generally begin with a round of introductions if there is even one person in the room that the others are unfamiliar with, followed by a summary of the agenda and a statement of the meeting target.
Following that, it’s important to reiterate the next steps and inform participants of the location of the decision log and meeting notes — but more on that later.
The Right People Need to Attend
Don’t schedule a meeting until you know who needs to be there, as seen in the previous flowchart. Having a meeting without a key participant almost always results in a waste of time.
An necessary attendee may be required to provide crucial background or contribute to the making of a decision, while an optional attendee may be affected by a decision but is not required to participate.
On that note, it’s vital to identify which attendees are optional and which are needed. Non-essential attendees typically attend meetings because they are afraid of losing vital details. According to studies, the most active meetings have 5–8 participants.
Optional members should be able to catch up on their own in less time than the meeting itself, assuming good meeting notes, decision logs, and action items were taken.
You should feel comfortable declining meetings if there isn’t an agenda or if the agenda doesn’t seem important as a team member. After refusing a meeting, don’t be afraid to ask for the meeting notes.
While They Are There, Let Them Speak
In over 80% of meetings, two to four people dominate the entire conversation, while the majority of the other attendees are either ignored or do not pay attention to the subject.
A successful host should ensure that there are ample pauses and breaks between discussions so that those who are less outgoing have a chance to chat.
It never hurts to inquire “does anyone have anything to add to this before we move on?” for a few seconds.
As weird as it might sound, I’ve seen a lot of success when large gatherings have a designated “speaker item” (e.g., a marker or tissue box) with the holder being the only person able to speak at any given time.
This eliminates interruptions and the possibility of people talking over each other. When anyone wishes to talk, they lift their hand, and the “speaker object” is then passed to them.
The speaker’s video is turned on as the “speaker object,” while the other attendees’ videos are turned off. This is a virtual solution that has performed well. A “raise hand” function in some video calling programs has also proven to be useful.
Since so many of us now operate from home, the number of meetings has increased dramatically, making efficient meetings more important than ever. I hope you found these suggestions useful! In the comments, I’d love to hear about how you keep your meetings productive.