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Lead Meetings Worth Attending In 7 Steps

Meetings play an important role in an organization. They are where strategy is shaped, decisions are made, and project advancements are discussed. They also provide employees with the opportunity to discuss ideas, provide feedback and create a collaborative environment.



While meetings can be useful, we need to address the elephant in the room:

They are productivity killers. There are different studies on the subject, but it’s estimated that leaders spend approx. 50-70% of their workweek attending meetings.


Also on average, up to 50% of meeting time is dedicated to information that could be shared separately and accessed asynchronously. To amplify this problem, with many companies moving hybrid in the past years, we have seen a tendency to substitute in-person time with more emails, chats and meetings.


The fear of people missing critical information has been solved with information overload. To avoid your teams being stuck in unproductive discussions all day, you can work around these 7 points to create successful meetings.


1. Why are we meeting?


There can be various good reasons to meet, and it’s quite important to decide which type of meeting you want to create before sending an invite. The most common ones fall under these types.


Status Update

This is the most used one, these meetings are useful for alignment, and gathering feedback. A meeting is a good option when the person needs that piece of information to do their work and real-time feedback is required. Make them quick and to the point; if no discussion is needed, consider other means to provide the update.


Information Sharing

This is usually information that is widely shared, i.e., an All-hands, where goals and progress are presented. The issue with some of these meetings is that there is a lot of information packed in a very short time, if they impact a wider audience ensure that they can easily go back to find that information. They are not the best type of meetings to get feedback, so you should think about how to address that at a later stage. Do not set and forget, reiterate the message after the meeting.


Problem-Solving

This type of meeting aims to determine the steps to solve a specific challenge. While this is usually between a manager and some of their team, it can help to have sessions to brainstorm creatively with multiple people to find the best resolution considering different angles. Choose carefully who can provide feedback and get them ready to do some creative thinking.


Decision Making

These are usually the most important types. It’s when all stakeholders come together to make an important business decision. This requires more time than a typical meeting and you should account for the fact that the decision might not be accomplished in a single session. Ensure that everyone is informed in advance of what needs to be achieved and come well-prepared for the meeting.


Most meetings tend to be formal but keeping some time for casual chats and getting together with the team can be much needed if you are fully remote.


2. Who should attend?


It’s easy to underestimate how much wasted time a team meeting can be. A quick 30-minute catch-up with 10 people means that you are using 3 working hours in total.


Group meetings tend to be effective with fewer than 8 people, to ensure everyone can participate in the discussion. Always ask what is the relevance for each person to attend before sending an invite. Who needs to be part of the discussion? Who can be optional?

Who should skip and just read meeting notes? If someone never says anything in this type of meeting, there is a good chance that their presence is not needed.


3. What do we want to achieve with this meeting?

Defining the desired outcome of a meeting can be just a simple statement to ensure everyone knows what they are trying to achieve with that discussion.


Meeting goals helps with productivity, as they keep everyone focused, it helps to set the agenda and to know what information, actions and decisions need to be taken by the end of the session: you can always know if the meeting was successful based on whether you reached that outcome or not.


4. What is the agenda?

One mantra I have carried since the start of my career is “No agenda no meeting”.

An agenda sets the topic and the tempo for each conversation, it helps to ensure you prioritize the most important topics, leaving enough time for questions, so you do not always end up with meetings running over time.


Having a set agenda also helps to ensure that all attendants have the information needed in advance to make the meeting effective, and whoever needs to have information to share comes ready for it.


5. When should we meet?


Time

The first obvious choice is finding the best time that works for everyone considering time zones and working hours. Some companies like to have “meeting-free” days to ensure people can block time for focus.


Duration

Too many meetings are set by default at 60 minutes, with people always running late from one (virtual) room to the other. Why not try to make 50 minutes instead, leaving some time in the end to decompress? Sometimes you will even realize that 30 minutes is more effective. Shorter meetings demand a clear agenda to be set and will help you stay focused.


Frequency

Most strategic meetings are held weekly to ensure things are on track, but there are plenty of occasions where a fortnightly call is all that is needed. Some updates can be done asynchronously and have less frequent meetings for brainstorming and decision-making only.


Also, while it’s great to have recurring meetings already set in the calendar, try not to schedule them over more than 3 months forward or 6 months tops. At the end of that period, it will be easier to assess again if the meeting is still valuable in its current format or if it should still be running at all.


6. What are the follow-up Actions?


It’s easy to end a meeting in a rush or go away forgetting what was agreed upon just minutes later.

That is why every meeting note-taking is essential, and it should always include action points and the needed follow-up.


Every action should have a clear owner, with info on what they need to deliver, how and by when. A good example would be: Alex will gather the past 6 months' revenue data for the project and will send it by EOD Friday to the group so we can make the final decision at Monday's meeting.


7. How do we keep the Feedback loop?

Meeting notes and actions should be easily accessible. If the meeting is a recurring one for a project, you need to have a place where everyone can go and check the progress; if you decide to solve a meeting in a certain way, you need to set a follow-up to check how it worked.


The best-set meeting can become a waste of time if you just set great intentions, but nothing else happens after that. If you spend way too much time stuck in unproductive meetings follow these 7 steps, with some small adjustments you can take back time in your daily agenda.


See you soon,

Serena

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