Making meetings more effective
Meetings are an immutable fact of team life. When you collaborate with other people, you can’t not meet. But you can meet more effectively. Most of us attend 5-10 meetings a week (sometimes more), and many of these meetings suck the life out of us because they run too long or weren’t properly planned. Raise your hand if any of these scenarios sound familiar:
- At the start of the meeting, someone says, “So what are we meeting about?” and there’s a pause while everyone looks around.
- You’re invited to a meeting and an hour before it starts, you get an email with all the materials you’re supposed to read in advance.
- Your team is having a check-in. When someone’s update turns into a question, the meeting turns into a working session that goes on well past the scheduled end time.
The key to avoiding each of these scenarios is to take a little bit of time to do some advance planning and to stay disciplined once the meeting starts. Here are some common-sense tips worth restating:
- Decide exactly what you need to accomplish before you get in the room. Summarize the goal of the meeting in one sentence, and include it in the invite.
- Consider whether people will need to read or do anything in advance. If so, give them at least 24 hours to do so.
- Don’t blend meeting types. If it’s meant to be a short check-in meeting, keep it that way. If it starts to turn into a brainstorming session, set up time to do that later.