Redeeming Meetings

group of people sitting indoors

Now more than ever your company should reset expectations on how it conducts meetings. The average employee spends 35% of their time in meetings and the average executive 50% of their time in meetings. It is estimated $37 billion is wasted per year on unproductive meetings (we all know this figure is low). The above stats and my personal experience lead me to two questions about meetings:

  • Can we reduce the amount of time we spend in meetings?
  • Can we make the meetings we have better?

The answer to both questions is, yes! The solution is both simple, yet hard to implement. Below is a checklist to ensure you succeed in having more efficient and more rewarding meetings.

First ask yourself, does it make sense to hold a meeting?

  • Meetings are the default, we feel a lack of control without them, but meetings are not always efficient or needed
    • Alternatives: email, team communication platforms (Slack), memos or phone calls

Start and end meetings on time

  • If a meeting starts at 2:00 pm, then start it at 2:00 pm (not 2:05 pm). If you cannot finish the agenda, then schedule a second meeting, do not run over
  • By remaining diligent in starting and stopping on time, your team will be more punctual and more engaged
    • An extra benefit is more efficiency with the rest of your teams’ day as they can trust their schedule more

Keep the guest list short

  • Error on the side of too few, rather than too many participants in your meeting, it is likely you will still have too many attendees at first
  • An easy way to implement smaller meetings sizes is by having a required and optional attendee list
    • Optional needs to mean optional, schedule around the required attendees and let the optional attendees determine if they need to be present, create an environment where your people know there is not negative consequences to decline optional invites
    • Video conferencing tip: Required attendees need to be heard and seen, optional attendees do not, allow them to be off screen and listen in

Have an agenda and send the agenda prior to the meeting

  • Agenda’s take time, yes, but in the long run an agenda saves time by ensuring everyone is more prepared and the meeting remains focused on the real issues
  • Some meetings will not require a set agenda but should have a set flow
    • One example of this pre-set flow is based on the EOS L10 methodology of meetings:
      • Check-in (5 min)
      • Key Metrics Review (5 min)
      • Goal Updates (5 min)
      • Client/Employee Headlines (5 min)
      • To-do List (5 min)
      • Issue List (60 min)
      • Wrap Up (5 min)

Stay Focused

  • Without an agenda or pre-set meeting flow, the meeting host makes it more challenging to stay on task
  • Master the delicate balance of getting into the weeds and vetting out all possibilities
    • Empower your employees to speak up when the meeting gets off the tracks or someone is not able to move on from a topic/detail

Send meeting recap and action items shortly after the meeting

  • Ensure someone is taking notes and review the notes immediately after the meeting. Once reviewed, send to all attendees
    • If possible, have the meeting notes on a screen to ensure there are no translation issues/surprises
  • Set proper deadlines and ensure there is accountability to any action items

If you and your leaders vigilantly implement these six items into your meeting routine, you will see an improvement in your meeting culture, an increase in your company’s morale and performance. If you are having a hard time diagnosing your team’s meeting issues or implementing a new meeting culture, we are happy to sit in and offer our guidance.

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