Meetings are low hanging fruit. If you were to parachute me into any company blind and ask me to find a way to make major impacts to productivity, meeting culture is one of the first places I would look.
After witnessing a painful, nonproductive 3 hour ordeal that has become a bi-weekly ritual for an otherwise really effective leadership team, I am (in hopes that they are reading) offering 3 simple ways to make meetings work:
- If I can read it online- it does not need a meeting. Meetings that are primarily for the purposes of reporting are a waste of everyone’s time. Meetings are useful for what people can only do at meetings: discussion, debate, decisions. Read the reports in preparation and maket he meeting about actions.
- An agenda is only as good as its suitability to create the desired outcomes for a meeting. The place most debilitating meetings are created is when someone puts together an agenda BEFORE they have identified outcomes for the meeting. Id you cannot define meaningful outcomes clearly, don’t have the meeting.
- If you think you have to make everyone stand up to be efficient, you have missed the point. Standing up makes a meeting short, not effective. If my arches hurt more than the impact of a poorly explored decision, short becomes expensive. Some meetings can be short and to the point. But if the issue requires discussion, an artificial means of shortening it misses the value proposition altogether.
Most work requires collaboration. And no matter how many tech tools we have to help, there are times when getting everyone in a room (physical or virtual) to work shoulder to shoulder or debate nose to nose is a very high value proposition. Dump the meetings (and meeting planning processes) that are rooted in habit and ritual and you will find plenty of time and value in the ones that are for getting work done.