Meeting Improvements

Ok, who hates meetings? How often do you hear employees complaining about no time to do any work as they sit in unproductive meetings all day? Well, it’s time to not blame the concept of the meeting anymore, and understand the true root cause of horrible meetings – piss-poor-planning and facilitation. When there is no agenda, no focus, rambling discussions, and lack of leadership, meetings are doomed to be wasteful.

Meetings are critical to ensure strong communication and collaboration. It is critical that all team members are up-to-speed on the various projects and that nothing comes as a “surprise” to any team members.

Even though meetings are a necessity, especially through the value of face-to-face interaction (or via video conference), they must be planned, organized and efficient to ensure valuable team member time is not wasted.

When to Do It

  • Whenever you decide a quicker way of communicating would not be good enough

  • Whenever a real need for a meeting is apparent

How to Do It

  • Call together only the necessary people

  • State the purpose of the meeting. Have an agenda, with major points, and tell the attendees about it ahead of time

  • Set a time limit. Any company-level meeting more than 30 minutes long is probably ineffective. One way to make meetings end on time is to schedule them 30 minutes before lunch or other mandatory activity. Another way to keep them short is to have “stand up” meetings with no chairs

  • Make a habit of starting meetings precisely on time. Anyone who comes late – make them feel a bit uncomfortable. Don’t let them slip in and sit down in the rear.

  • Stick to the subject. Best way to do this is to write down the objective of the meeting, and the agenda, on a whiteboard or a piece of chart paper.

  • When issues are to be discussed, make sure participants do their “homework “ ahead of time.

  • Don’t let unresolved issues go unanswered. If it’s a “one-man” issue, talk to that man after the meeting.

  • Summarize what was covered in the meeting and who’s going to do what.

  • Write down the results of the meeting so people who didn’t attend can find out what happened.

  • Don’t schedule meetings unless you think they are absolutely necessary. About half of the usual, scheduled, “routine” meetings are a waste of time.

  • A 20 minute meeting early in the morning is usually far more effective than a 60 minute meeting later in the day.

  • For off-topic items, have a “parking lot” and list the items there for future discussion.

How to Know When It’s Done Right

  • Participants show up on time and are prepared

  • Discussion focusses on the topic

  • Meeting adjourns on time

  • Meeting objectives are accomplished

Set an example by showing up on time, not missing meetings due to a lack of poor scheduling, and educate all team members the value of efficient and well-planned meetings.

Create and use a meeting template. This should also be part of the product folder for a record of all meetings, etc. Many times there is confusion regarding decisions that were made previously, by having a well-documented and organized record of meeting minutes, will ensure accuracy and flexibility and speed during various projects and development.

Always take complete notes during every meeting and distribute immediately after. This will ensure all attendees are on the same page.

Once team members understand the necessity and benefit of meetings, they will not be complaining so much when they experience well planned and executed meetings.