So, we still spend loads of time in meetings. Although now its of the Zoom kind rather than around big desks in offices (remember them?). But we still have lazy people putting dreary meetings in our calendars for exactly 30 or 60 minutes, asking everyone to be in it with the same people then monopolising the conversations. Why have meetings been stuck like this for years? Well, because the people initiating them bizarrely see value in it - They need to get stuff from it so think its valuable. Much easier to get updates from everyone on the team so I get everything I need in one go - no matter that once someone has done their update they are then listening to everybody else's and is of no interest! Here are ten tips for better meetings: follow them if you're of influence and are the one scheduling meetings in the first place; try and encourage the bosses to follow the tips if you're not!
- Spectators who don't say anything and where its nice for them to be there shouldn't be. Bosses think its very inclusive and collaborative to have everyone in the meeting but it's a waste of time. How about these 'periphery' people send their feedback ahead of the meeting and get the key points/actions emailed to them after the meeting instead.
- Apparently 8 people or less in a meeting is great for solving problems/making decisions. 18 or less people for brainstorming and unlimited numbers for just informing people of stuff.
- Challenge the hell out of the question 'does that person need to attend the whole meeting?' Perhaps they can come in for last fifteen minutes only where its relevant content for them. Consider someone representing the voices of a team rather than the whole team having to attend.
- Consider 'updates from people' being sent round by email instead of going round each person in a meeting. people feel the need to have to 'update' everyone for ages and it drags the meeting out as well as losing energy. If you must have 'updates from all' then cap them at three minutes each.
- Play around with 25 minute or 50 minute meetings and stick to timings to allow for transitions between meetings. Don't just put in an hour when only forty minutes is needed: work expands to fit the time available! (Parkinson's Law).
- Use more dynamic formats like a ten minute 'huddle' call every morning to look at highlights yesterday, metrics, obstacles, priorities today.
- Start meetings on a quick positive; perhaps thanking someone, recognising an achievement etc.
- If using agendas, put dramatic and meaty stuff near the beginning is and where people are most attentive. Send agendas beforehand with decisions that need to be made and any prep/reading required beforehand. End meetings with action points and other info from the meeting that needs feeding to people not there.
- Use people's names to get their thoughts etc to stop them nodding off or multitasking on video calls!
- Ask 'are our meetings working' question on feedback/engagement staff surveys. Very few Companies do this.
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