8 Simple Ways To Make Meetings Precise And Result Oriented

Workplace Productivity
Published on
February 23, 2016

Meetings may appear attractive at times, but they can drain your and your team's energy, particularly your millennial workforce, by distracting from the critical day-to-day actions needed to keep a business afloat. Poorly-run meetings waste more time and money than any other facet of corporate life, a problem to which startups are especially susceptible.  

On the other hand, well-run organizations properly hire and train managers who can keep meetings short and to the point, with an outline and an accurate list of who needs to be in the room. It frees top performers to continue their winning streak rather than find themselves stuck in an office-wide meeting that has no bearing on their work.  

While transparency is critical, wasting time is stupid. The rise of "scrum" and "lean methodology" have slowed the trend of two-hour team updates, but since managers and founders still feel the need to host them, it's time to discuss a better way to operate.

  1. Increase your one-on-ones

A manager's or founder's best strategy for keeping their finger on the pulse is to schedule one-on-one meetings with each department's leadership team. These fast check-ins cut down on the number of agenda items in staff meetings, speed up decision-making, and establish trust and rapport with senior workers, all while receiving the information you need and identifying areas for improvement.  

However, canceling these meetings because something else comes up can show you're not committed to their success - a significant morale killer in smaller teams. Therefore, these meetings should be regularly scheduled, maintained, and rarely moved or canceled.

  1. Use meetings to inspire your team

The best managers go further than simply encouraging their direct reports to complete tasks. They inspire their staffers to own their accomplishments and exceed their goals by leading by example. Bringing excitement into a workforce is an under-appreciated skill, and meetings are a welcome opportunity to showcase this enthusiasm.

  1. Be the Captain of Meetings

When there's no natural leader, meetings can quickly spiral out of control. After establishing your one-on-ones, you can begin to craft a meeting outline with particular goals. Stick to the schedule, keep an eye on the clock, and ensure that everyone knows what the meeting is trying to achieve. Designate someone as the notetaker who can build a follow-up schedule based on action items, then address these points in your one-on-ones afterward.

  1. Run a tight ship

Related to the last item, the meeting leader must understand which questions are in bounds and handled offline. Sticking to a plan shows power, clarity, and respect for the time of everyone in the room. A founder or manager who does not keep control of a meeting will inevitably find that disagreements arise. The conference itself can often get sidetracked when this happens, as you suddenly will need to diffuse a situation.

  1. Invite no more than 10 people

The larger the group, the less you accomplish. A group of 8 to 10 people is optimal, but even five people may suffice for startups. Understanding your plan and inviting the right people to accomplish critical goals is the best way to determine the perfect number for you. For example, instead of asking the whole team invite-only, the group leader can then share the meeting's agenda and notes to the rest in a follow-up email.

  1. Time is money

Every time that you have a meeting, you must consider the impact on your staff's productivity and bottom line. Is the discussion critical for achieving a business function? Will you accelerate solving a problem - thus saving you money in person-hours - or will this merely serve as a paid vacation in which your employees zone out? While meetings are sometimes necessary, they can be detrimental to your team's workflow. Thus, it's critical to weigh the opportunity cost to your company before emailing out meeting invites.

  1. Rethink check-ins

While some consider "scrum" the enormous time-saver in product management, others misunderstand the concept and pour hours into unproductive check-ins. Rather than asking everyone in your team to share what they're working on, move this conversation online or into your one-on-one so that only those affected by each other's projects receive updates.

  1. Make yourself available

Ironically, despite the emphasis on transparency, overbooking one's calendar for weeks can reduce the ability of staffers to reach you when they most need help. Sort through your calendar and delete any meetings that can just as efficiently be conducted via email, making more time for actually "urgent" meetings and calls from decision-makers. Another excellent way to clear up clutter is to limit all meetings to 20-30 minutes with a buffer of at least 15 minutes between each one. Always start and end a session on time - running over indicates that you are neither the Captain of Meetings nor capable of discerning between essential and non-important discussions. Neither makes you look very responsible.

While we might not be able to get rid of meetings altogether, we can certainly make them more efficient for ourselves and those involved. Following these simple rules and keeping the "pets, kids, and weekend plans" conversations to the water cooler are easy ways to help accelerate your company's success.

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