Leading meetings that produce results. We've all been there - you are stuck in an endless meeting, not really sure why you're even there in the first place. And you're probably not alone. When attending such meetings, I have the feeling of being in a hostage situation. Even worse, I can't stop thinking about all the things put on hold for this meeting to take place. Nor the opportunities wasted to scratch things off my to-do list for the day. After a while, I started noticing patterns. Things one can do prior, during and post-meeting, that will not only make the meeting more effective, but actually generate results afterwards. Below is a list of the 4 most important items that I found can make or break your meeting.
This sounds simple, but more often than not, this simple rule is disregard - do you actually need a meeting? In most cases, a simple email, phone call or Slack message (to a particular person or group) can get you the necessary answers. Most people think that emailing your peers is disrupting them, but that's not entirely true. By emailing someone, you give them the option to answer the email when they get a chance to do so, and not drag them away from what they are doing at that moment. If it is urgent, then pick up the phone and call the person up. Communicate your needs in a clear and concise manner, and you'll get your answer. If it's a situation that does call for a meeting (why has Marketing stopped producing quality posts?), make sure that you clearly outline what the goal of that meeting is.
While most people like having an audience when talking about their next big idea, I'd rather make sure that the right people to work on that idea are in the room. Make a list of people that will give the most impact to that particular meeting. And invite them only!
An excellent question, often unanswered until the meeting starts. And even then it's very vague - Why are we here for? In Business for Punks, author James Watt argues that for Brewdog's marketing efforts, timing was everything. And you should stick to it too - don't waste your and other people's time. Before the meeting, make a list of 3 items that need to be addressed during that meeting. Note them down as the agenda, an email it out to your peers. That way, you'll have clear objectives for the meeting in front of you, and your colleagues will have time to prepare for the meeting too. This simple action can increase your meeting productivity tenfold!
After most meetings have ended, there's no clear goal defined, nor what the next steps are. Instead, at the end of the meeting, make sure to summarize:
Sure, the 4 items above sound simple enough, but you have to stick to them and repeat the process over and over again. Driving meetings this way will not only help you make them more productive, but will also eliminate the unnecessary ones and free-up more time in your schedule. Your peers will actually take away valuable information, teams will be aligned on the goals, and everyone will be able to contribute in a seamless (or as close to) way.
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