Meetings are necessary, especially when companies are competing on talent and performance. However, research shows that meetings are often inefficient and ineffective. In fact, a recent report found that poorly organized meetings cost the U.S. an estimated $399 billion in 2019.
We knew there had to be a better way. That’s why we implemented a simple formula that revolutionized our meetings:
Better + smaller + shorter = fewer.
In this blog, you’ll learn this formula for holding effective meetings. The following practices have allowed us fewer meetings without sacrificing clear communication and productivity—and we hope they make the same impact in your organization as well.
Host better meetings.
As a team leader, you probably hope to minimize time wasted in meetings. Implement these three practices to improve the quality of staff meetings.
Set a goal.
It’s easy to get so caught up in meeting hoopla that we forget the basics: What is this meeting for? When setting up a meeting, ask yourself this fundamental question. Set a goal for your meeting, such as:
Providing project updates
Kicking off a new initiative
Create a meeting agenda.
To keep meetings on track, establish a clear agenda. This will streamline the meeting and allow attendees to come prepared with thoughts. While some people are great at off-the-cuff input during meetings, others like to collect their thoughts on their own prior to the meeting.
Take this habit to the next level by providing any resources or decks attendees should review prior to the meeting.
Bonus tip: Stick to the items on the agenda. It’s easy to get distracted by tangents and additional topics that arise. Take note of these topics so you can address them at another time.
Consider your remote colleagues.
If your workplace offers flexible work, there’s a good chance your meeting will include remote team members. Be sure to include a video conferencing link, such as Zoom, in your meeting invite to accommodate remote colleagues.
Make meetings smaller.
There are many avenues for sharing information; meetings are just one of them. Use these tips to decrease the number of people in attendance—so you can maximize efficiency.
At the end of the meeting, participants should have a clear takeaway, whether that’s a decision that was made or action items that were assigned.
Providing a recap allows all parties to stay accountable to decisions made and follow through on next steps, while informing optional attendees of the meeting outcome.
Take and share notes.
The best way to have better and fewer meetings is to take good notes to send to those who weren’t in attendance.
These don’t have to be formal meeting minutes—they just need to communicate the purpose and major takeaways of the meeting.
Make attendance optional.
While there are some attendees who absolutely must be present, there are others who just need to be in the loop. Consider which attendees are mandatory and optional, then update your invites accordingly. Send meeting minutes and action items to the optional invites who didn’t attend.
Shorten meeting times.
Time management plays a critical role in running better team meetings. Try these three practices to decrease the amount of time spent in meetings.
End at 25/55 past.
We’ve all run late to meetings or started meetings late waiting for other attendees to show up.
Help meetings run on time by ending at 25 or 55 past the hour. Attendees have ample time to get to their next meeting and the next meeting host has ample time to prepare the room.
Assign someone to monitor time and give the group updates on how much time’s left in the meeting.
If you can’t be present at a meeting due to a more pressing matter, ask for a recap or to reschedule.
The overwhelming majority of people (98%) aren’t good at multitasking. Attending a meeting while completing another activity hinders both efforts.
Streamline status updates.
If the purpose of the meeting is to provide status updates, consider having project managers submit them for review in advance of the meeting. This will free up valuable time to problem-solve and focus on what needs to be discussed in person.
Many times, status updates can be done by email, avoiding a meeting altogether.
What’s your next step on your journey to better meetings?
Change takes time. It’s easier to adopt and develop new habits when you take them one at a time.
Pick one of these pages to start with, solidify the practices, then move to the next. Encourage employees to practice these habits for a month. They can print the respective page and post in their cubicle or in meeting rooms as a reminder of the new meeting habits you’re working together to adopt.