Advisors · Leadership

Best meeting hacks?


October 18th, 2015

What are some meeting hacks others have discovered from their own experience. What days work best? Specific times? 

Peter Johnston Businesses are composed of pixels, bytes & atoms. All 3 change constantly. I make that change +ve.

October 18th, 2015

A meeting was called at a major corporation and over 60 people attended. The new CEO walked in. She stopped one person who came in after her and said, pleasantly... "Tell me your name and why you are here". When they did so, she said - "you're not required in this meeting". Then she started round the room.

Within seconds half the people got up and left, realising they couldn't justify being there. Eventually the meeting had a dozen people and work got done.

The hack is simple...
Make it single issue with a simple question - "How do we..."  
Invite only the people who have the handles to make a difference.
And focus on a tangible and instantly actionable outcome.

Meetings are not the place for news - an email is quicker to scan, allows for those who don't take it in first time and ensures no ambiguity in the message.

Round the group meetings don't get everyone on the same page - they just waste the time of all but two people in the room - you and the person telling you stuff. Put stuff everyone needs to know in another email or on a bulletin board.

And have "where are we on this project" meetings standing up. That focuses everyone on a quick "we've done this" not a long set of excuses.

John Seiffer Business Advisor to growing companies

October 18th, 2015

I just read an article about a guy who put all his 1:1 meetings on one day - wiped out that day but freed up the rest of his week. And he actually saw trends on his meeting day that he'd missed having them spread out. 

John Maloney Internet of Things Executive Consultant, IoT Engineer

October 20th, 2015

Conduct only standing meetings. Not regularly scheduled, but really standing, i.e., get rid of all chairs. It's healthier and people will get to the point, and get the point a LOT faster.  

Forget about refreshments, no bowls of cut fruit, no bagels, no coffee. 

Never hold a meeting for deterministic activities, or those interactions where the outcomes are known. These include status reports, updates, reviews, etc.Their are other vast media and modalities for these activities.

Meetings, aka, Same Time, Same Place (STSP) are for non-deterministic activities. These are when the outcomes are unknown. These are creative activities like design, relationships, sales, strategy, persuasion, knowledge creation, etc. These complex activities depend on authentic conversation, emergence, genuine collaboration, multiformity of thinking, personal interactions, trust, developing relationships, and so forth. 

More here...

Dimitry Rotstein Founder at Miranor

October 18th, 2015

That said, according to studies, it's recommended to have meetings either in the beginning or the end of the workday - a meeting creates a zone of "dead time" before and after it, so having a meeting in the middle of the day creates two dead zones instead of one.

Dimitry Rotstein Founder at Miranor

October 18th, 2015

The key is to have as few of them as possible. Seriously - most meetings are redundant if you really think about it.

Mamie Stewart Founder & CEO at Meeteor, Speaker, Change-maker

October 19th, 2015

Meetings are my business. Here is one blog post I published about productive meetings. There are many more on our site with lots of tips and best practices.

You can also try using a product like Meeteor to help you plan your agendas and take good notes. We've found through our user testing that:

(1) by having to create an agenda before the meeting, you reduce the possibility of an unproductive meeting. It forces you to clarify what you're going to accomplish and everyone who attends can understand why they're there.
(2) many times, a meeting does accomplish quite a bit but because no one takes notes or crystalizes the discussion, all the good thinking goes to waste. Our system prompts you to capture notes as next steps and decisions so that everyone understands what you've accomplished and how to move forward.
(3) Because you have an agenda and good notes, fewer people need to attend the meeting. They can catch up on the next steps and decisions after the  meeting and still be 'in the know' without having wasted their time sitting through the whole conversation. 

Message me directly if you want an early access link to the Meeteor app.

Peter Johnston Businesses are composed of pixels, bytes & atoms. All 3 change constantly. I make that change +ve.

October 18th, 2015

People forget that the meeting is a small part of a process, not an end in itself. 

The actions from the meeting should take ten times longer than the meeting itself, otherwise the meeting is a disproportionate part of the process.

John Seiffer Business Advisor to growing companies

October 18th, 2015

Agreed. It's not about the day and time. It's about Why you're having the meeting, who is there and how it's run.

Gabriel Magana-Gonzalez Highly experienced CTO/Engineer/Software Architect

October 18th, 2015

I'll spare you the diatribe against having meetings. Too few meetings can be disastrous to progress/synchronization/etc, so I myself concentrate on making the meetings we do have go as quickly and optimally as possible. Also strive to make effective meetings part of your company culture. This is absolutely best led by example.

- Be astoundingly anal retentive about starting on time and not going over time. One person being 5 minutes late is a huge waste of combined time of the attendees. Encourage people to show up 2 minutes before meeting scheduled start time. Chastise people who show up late; a little light public shaming can go a long way to fix disrespectful people who are otherwise comfortable showing up late.

- Police chit chat and tangents strictly. Some tangents are important, but irrelevant to the majority of the attendees. Ask people to take it offline or schedule a different meeting for the tangent.

- If a meeting is scheduled for an hour and you finish in 20 minutes, then end it early. It's surprising how afraid some people are about terminating a meeting early. If the meeting consistently finishes early, then allocate less time to it.

- Always have a written agenda and meeting purpose. Make sure all those invited have to be there. A great place to sanity check your meeting is when you send out the invitation, enter the agenda and purpose into the invitation itself and go through the attendees to see if you can liberate people.

- Do not have meetings at all sorts of different times. Block them together as much as possible. Time between meetings is dead time and extremely wasteful, specially for engineers or other high-concentration types. Three one-hour meetings in a day scheduled at the wrong time can kill the whole day's productivity. Good practice is to scheduling meetings at either at beginning or end of day. Leaves more time for continuous concentration the rest of the day.

- In my last several companies, we have unintentionally gravitated to having routine meetings on Fridays. Status meetings, planning meetings, sprint planning/retrospective, etc. Works out really well because some people are on weekend mode anyway, and you know ahead of time what you're in for.

- If you need to prepare something for the meeting, ask people to prepare for it before the meeting starts. It's a huge waste of time when Marty arrives right on time for the meeting but did not bother to set up the video conference and everyone wastes time while he gets his audio working, which he swears worked just last night.

Most people hate meetings, but when done right, they are extremely important communication facilitators, specially when people in the meeting do not work face to face.

Michael Lipson Executive Coach & Strategic Consultant

October 18th, 2015

Articulate meeting desired outcomes explicitly at the outset - or even before.  Get buy in - or if you choose a more collaborative approach poll others for tired outcomes - and then reach alignment on this before gong any further.  I repeat - every meeting can have an explicitly stated and agreed to focus (or more than 1), which works wonders and creating a shared focus.  Then a facilitator (perhaps then who called mtg) steers everything in this direction.  
Dont; forget to check in for others buy in or differing POV's, reconcile if needed, and then convert to agreements incl next steps (what, who owns by when, what support needed.)