Five Ways to Make Meetings More Meaningful
Meetings. At times they seem like a necessary evil. At their worst, a waste of time.
But what if meetings could be something better? A productive time to come together as a team to answer questions and share ideas? To actually get stuff done?
ZG recently decided to revise our approach to meetings. Our main goals: create more uninterrupted time to work; improve meeting preparedness, participation and effectiveness; and establish guidelines and etiquette for an efficient meeting.
Using these goals as our drivers, we put these five guidelines in place for people to follow when setting up and attending meetings:
- Schedule meetings at least two days in advance – This is to ensure attendees have the capacity to participate and have time to prepare. Of course, there are a few exceptions to this rule, including, new business opportunities and client emergencies.
- Provide background information in advance – Going over documents that can be reviewed in advance wastes meeting time. We now require all documents be linked to the meeting invitation. This encourages advance thinking, helps attendees participate and ensures efficiency.
- No agenda, no attenda – All potential participants should understand the purpose of the meeting. This means those scheduling meetings must provide an agenda that includes the meeting objective and expectations around what needs to be accomplished. Invitees may decline the meeting if there is no agenda.
- Be prepared to participate – Participants should review the agenda and background information prior to the meeting and prepare a list of questions or ideas. Meetings are more impactful when everyone participates.
- When to decline a meeting – Meetings can be declined if the time is better spent hitting a major deadline. Participants may also decline meetings if they don’t have the information needed to effectively prepare for the meeting.
Another step we took is to create “no meetings” blocks of time during the week. Late afternoons and Fridays are generally off-limits for meetings unless they are new business opportunities or client emergencies.
Taking these steps to make meetings more efficient and productive has already started to pay off by allowing people to be more thoughtful about their work and get it done in a timely manner. We respect people’s time and want to help them find ways to work well and contribute in meaningful, impactful ways.
What is your organization doing to make meetings more meaningful?