Follow this guide to quit wasting your people's time and yours.
You are sitting at your desk when your eye catches movement in the bottom right of your screen.
Yep — Joe’s setting up another meeting. He has personally invited you to waste time with him.
We’ve all been there. Most of you reading this are going to attend on average one to two pointless meetings a day. (If you are lucky)
Here’s the reality — meetings typically have great intentions but horrible planning and execution.
Well — there are a couple of reasons such as no clear purpose, poor planning, unnecessary attendees, lack of structure, and those few individuals who love to hear themselves talk.
Here’s the scary part.
There are 11 million meetings held each day. This translates to 55 million meetings per week and an astonishing 220 million meetings per year. (Otter)
71% of respondents in a survey found that most meetings are inefficient and unproductive. (Harvard Business Review)
More than 35% of employees found that they waste 2 to 5 hours per day on meetings and calls, but they achieve nothing to show. (Otter)
As leaders — you can’t always give your people more money or resources but you can always give them their time back. Which in my humble opinion — is more valuable.
So — let’s discuss how we “command meetings effectively”!
Before scheduling a meeting, consider the reasons behind the “need” for one.
Factors like problem complexity, collaboration, urgency, conflict, stakeholder involvement, or an announcement determine whether a meeting is necessary.
Ultimately, if you can easily get the answer by calling or visiting someone, there’s no need to hold a meeting.
If you truly determine a meeting is required, start with step 1 below.
1. Define Clear Objectives
What is it that you want to achieve? What is the goal and purpose of the meeting?
Defining this allows those invited to understand your expectations and prepare accordingly.
This creates alignment and discussion.
In the example above, you can see, that the overall intent is to improve continuity within the organization and the purpose of the meeting is to kick off the project/effort.
A clear objective provides attendees with a better understanding of what they can expect.
2. Develop an Agenda
Most people disregard this step. They think to themselves that they can “wing it” or navigate the meeting in real-time.
Stop fooling yourself.
Preparing a well-structured agenda before the meeting allows people to:
1) See your desired talking points and the effort behind it (Yes, this matters)
2) More depth as to what preparation is required
3) Ask questions before the meeting
3. Command the Meeting
Okay, so by now you’ve sent the meeting invite.
In natural response, most people probably dreaded the meeting invite pop-up but this time it’s different. They notice the thought behind it.
(RECOMMENDATION) Ten minutes before the meeting, print out your meeting agenda so you can reference it and take any notes on it.
Ensure that you arrive punctually and walk in with confidence. Upon taking your seat, kindly greet everyone present, capturing their attention.
Setting the tone and taking charge early on is key. The risk of not doing so is your meeting being hijacked by John and Sarah who only want to hear themselves talk.
Start by setting the ground rules for the meeting, respecting each other’s opinions, maintaining a constructive atmosphere, and following the agenda.
Then….you need to reinforce the time constraints.
For example, “We have specifically set aside 30 minutes for this discussion and will ensure that we conclude within the allocated time.”
If you need to, appoint someone as a “time hack”. Someone that will wave or get your attention when you’re five minutes from being complete.
Once you set the ground rules, follow your agenda and keep your team on track.
4. Take Effective Meeting Notes
Depending on your position, you may elect to delegate taking meeting notes to someone else but regardless the information needs to be recorded.
If you take a step back and think about it. The value of a meeting is the discussion, the brainstorming, and potential solutions that may pop up.
For example, as the meeting progresses and we hit agenda item #6, “Brainstorming”, you can jot down ideas such as “ShareDrive, Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, etc.”
Maybe you discover that John does more than just talk.. he has 2 years of experience building SharePoint sites.
5. Follow Up with Actionable Items
Okay, now the final step!
Ideally, within 24 hours of your meeting, you should send an email out with clear “due-outs”.
If you have an executive officer or secretary, create a standing expectation or time threshold for when to publish meeting due-outs.
For example, see below.
24 Jan Meeting Due-Outs:
1) John: As Team Lead, conduct an extensive analysis of SharePoint’s capabilities and limitations, documenting findings in a comprehensive report. Share the report with all team members via email for review and discussion by 25th January 2024.
2) Sarah: As Senior Advisor, collaborate with John by compiling relevant supplementary information for the SharePoint analysis. Additionally, collaborate with Resource Advisors to assess budgetary constraints and propose innovative strategies to work within those limitations.
Once you send the email out it’s simply a matter of following up and communication until your objective is achieved.
Okay — so this concludes the step-by-step guide for how to command an effective meeting.
I do hope you gained value from this post because too many hours are being wasted on mismanaged meetings.
Let’s change that!