2 Rules to Follow to Make Your Meetings Matter
Picture this: You’re sitting in an office chair at a conference table with 10 of your cohorts, leaning back, feeling your phone vibrate every minute or so as another email comes in. Another text hits. Another potential problem. The world could be burning down and you are stuck in this meeting. Heck most of the meeting doesn’t have anything to do with you. You are listening to other people drone on and on about topics that you could care less about. Seeing a meeting on your schedule is always torture and a GIANT waste of time.
This is sadly how most people feel about meetings. In surveys, employees will state that meetings are one of the biggest time wasters they have. What’s even worse, is that the people holding the meeting will many times say the same thing! So, why meet? Are you meeting just to have a meeting? Is it because “that’s just what you do in a company?”
I’m not typically a “follow the rules” kind of guy. In fact I don’t love to be told what to do, but who does? However these next two rules will change your life when it comes to making your meetings matter and getting the most out of your time with your team.
Rule #1: Prepare.Prepare.Prepare.
- Meetings should be preplanned with agendas and times. Start on time, end on time, and hit the topics on time. In fact, use a timer. When people are “on the clock” on a topic, you will be surprised at how efficient the discussion gets. Side stories and tangents that are not truly relevant to the decision get cut out and the real meat of the discussion is had.
- Assign a timekeeper and topic monitor to assure that you stay on task and on time. Give them the power to stop the group if needed to assess the validity of where you are headed. I have even put a bell in the center of the table for all to ring if they see we are done with a topic but meandering around it for no real reason.
- Agendas should distributed early and everyone should know what part they are playing in the various sections so they are prepared and succinct. Have a purpose. If you are going to bring your team together, be sure you understand what you are trying to accomplish with the gathering and make sure you answer that with the agenda.
Aimless meetings are way too prevalent; if you aren’t answering the purpose, cancel it. Your team will love you for it. Meetings cost a fortune in opportunity cost, make sure you glean every last penny of production out of it.
Rule #2: Have the right butts in the seat
I wrote a whole blog series about making sure you have the right team in place, or “butts in seat.” Right now I’m talking quite literally about who is actually sitting in on your meeting.
- Make sure everyone in the meeting needs to be there for each part. If there is a section that doesn’t pertain to one person, can you fashion the agenda where that section is at the beginning or end so they can leave early or show up after the other is discussed?
- Are you leading a “look at me” meeting where it is a display of your power and control or is it a collaboration of minds to come up with solutions to issues or problems? Information could be disseminated via email many times that is discussed in a meeting. If you want to hold people accountable it should be done in a one on one setting anyway. Only the celebration of good information should be done in the group.
- When you look at your agenda, ask yourself, would each person’s time be better served working on your business or sitting in a meeting room discussing this topic? If it is the former, try not to have them in the room. With fewer people in the room, and the ones that are truly engaged in the discussion, even that piece will get faster and more efficient. It is a win-win for everyone.
Meetings can be a vital pipeline of information to team members with sharing of ideas and group discussions. At the same time, they can be the anchors that keep a company from achieving results. Make sure yours are well thought and planned out. Guard your time and your teams. Don’t stand for people being late or getting off topic. Add up all of the people in the room’s pay (if you did it by hour) and write on your agenda how much money your meeting is costing per minute. That number alone might make you think twice before having the extended discussion on the type of coffee in the kitchen…Then make sure you have the right people in the room. If they aren’t engaged, ask them to leave. Either it isn’t important enough or they don’t realize it is. If they aren’t prepared, ask them to reschedule with you when they are versus bumbling through it unprepared. And if that happens more than a few times, read my blog on interviewing and hiring, you might need it.
Until next time, go make something happen.