Whether you ask bosses or employees, it is likely that no one would really say they enjoy meetings, even though a significant percentage of many people’s workdays is spent in meetings.
The effects of meetings can often also spill over to affect productivity for rest of the day as well. People have to spend time to prepare for the meeting, co-ordinate schedules to set the meeting, minute down and disseminate notes of the meeting afterwards, and then follow up on action items and set the next meeting.
Even if a “quick” 15-minute meeting can disrupt an individual’s workflow and requires extra effort to get back to the rhythm of things.
Meetings are tolerated, despite their high costs, because of their value in producing better decisions and outcomes. Perhaps then, the real problem is not the meetings; it is how meetings are run.
Here are some simple hacks anyone can use to make the next meeting they run effective and less – whether these meetings are face-to-face or remotely.
#1 Change Things Up
Routines bore people. Some people mentally check out the moment they step into a meeting room.
Once in a while, move to a fresh venue. The change of scenery provides a mental break from their daily routine, and people will arrive with greater energy.
Or if it’s possible, consider unconventional locations, like cafes. Getting out of the office will deliver a quick boost of energy and the novelty of the experience will help promote focus.
Your employees will be grateful for the change and might dread meetings a little less the next time.
For remote meetings, explore software functionality of changing the wallpaper, fonts, and other aspects of the screen to reflect the mood and tone of the meeting.
Another idea could be getting team members to wear a certain colour can inject some fun and brevity to a weekly check-in.
#2 Two Pizza Rule
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, has a rule: if a team can’t be fed with two large pizzas, it is too big.
That can apply to your meetings too.
Of course, there’s no magic number to the group size of your meeting. But you can consider reducing the attendees in each meeting.
In larger group sizes, decision-making is slower and less effective due to the sheer volume of social interactions present. Be thoughtful about who you invite. Having non-essential employees in the meeting not only wastes their time and productivity, their unhappiness is also likely to impact the team.
This is even more so for remote meetings, where it is easy for people who are not as involved to drift and not concentrate on what’s being discussed, or for those with opinions to remain silent because of the difficulty in getting heard amid a fast-flowing discussion and lack of visual cues to signal intent to speak.
#3 Stand Up Meetings
One of the greatest challenges of meetings is to stay on topic. To hold leaders and attendees accountable whenever meetings run long, get everyone to stand till it ends.
The longer you stand, the more uncomfortable you’ll be. Once the fatigue sets in, everyone will have an incentive to keep the meeting short, eliminating unnecessary chatter and concentrating on the agenda.
If you’re not a fan of standing throughout the meeting, you can implement it when meetings overrun instead. Being forced to stand can motivate people to get things done faster than they would otherwise.
For remote meetings, you could have a large timer to indicate how much time remains for a particular agenda item.
#4 Respect Timings
Once a meeting time is set, stick to it – whether that’s an in-person meeting or virtual one.
If meetings you hold often run on longer than expected, try booking your meetings for shorter periods of time. This can sound challenging, but it’ll force you to stay on task and be concise with your points.
Starting on time is equally important too. It builds a culture of respect and professionalism. It also shows that you value your time and the time of others. If you’re the one who called for the meeting, make sure you are not always running late.
Meetings that start consistently late may influence attendees to turn up later, lowering everyone’s expectations of the meeting.
For those unfamiliar with meeting software, make the effort to do a trial test or login earlier to ensure all the technical issues are out of the way.
#5 Don’t Call It A Meeting
Meetings are, by default, a dull corporate affair. Being invited to a ‘meeting’ just instils dread in the attendees. Shake things up and rename it according to the agenda. Is it a brainstorm instead? Or a status update?
Having said that, status update meetings generally have bad reps. If you are broadcasting information, it can easily be written down and shared.
When people show up for something that is called “Post Campaign Analysis” or “Annual Team Reflection”, they know what to expect. The more clarity you can provide about what you need from the attendees, the better. People are more likely to contribute if they know what they are supposed to do.
Other Bonus Hacks
When the meeting invite returns, consider if it can be done in other ways, such as email or a shared document online. And if a meeting must be held, question its purpose and the role that you will fill in it. Often, meetings may be held out of habit rather than necessity.
If it’s hard cancelling all your meetings, try designating one day of the week in which you won’t attend meetings. Having a free day to get deep work done without interruptions can be a productivity booster. It gives quiet time to concentrate on solo work, which is otherwise compensated by putting in extra hours at night or in the weekend.
Design Better Meetings
If there’s one thing most employees can agree on, it’s that meetings can be more productive.
Making simple tweaks to meetings can have far-reaching impacts on productivity and job satisfaction. Plus, your employees will thank you for it. If you’ve tried these meeting hacks, share with us your results on our community page.
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