Lead Great Meetings

Meetings is universally the most hated part of work by regular employees.

Why? Because they are usually really bad and prevent from doing what they want - their actual work.

But meetings can be great if lead properly.

Clear the way

One of the most important traits of leaders for high performing teams is clearing the way. They are highly alert to the number of productive hours their team has and does everything to protect their time.

If you drown your team in meetings they just have to run even faster to get the real work done.

The best meetings to eliminate is any kind of status meeting. They can all be replaced by check ins or other written updates. Written statuses also makes it a lot easier to go back and compare previous updates. If questions arise in the update you can book a short specific meeting for hatching out a specific concern.

Keep them small and short

In a meeting only one person can contribute at a time. All other people are non-contributing. As the number of people in a meeting grows so does the amount of non-contributing hours wasted leaving your team frustrated.

If you have a 1 hour meeting you can only have 1 hour of contributing time (since people can't speak over each other). So 2 people for 1 hour gives you a cost of 1-hour of contributing time vs 1 hour of non contributing time. Its a avg 50% contribution rate - great! But if you have 8 people in that 1 hour meeting you still only have 1 hour of contributing time but 7 hours of non-contributing time. It is a avg 12.5% contribution rate - ouch! It is therefore very easy to feel like your time is wasted in big meetings.

That is why keeping a meeting to a minimum amount of people makes them feel better.

The same for time. Don't default to the one hour if you can hatch it out in 20 minutes.

Set people up for success

When you do have meeting then set your colleagues up for success.

The majority of meeting invitations have a short title, the people included and a time. That is it. It is hard to put less effort in to a meeting.

To have a truly great meeting you should invest the time in writing a great introduction setting up the purpose of the meeting, what you hope to get out of it and how you think each invited person can contribute.

You should also set clear agenda topics (the fewer the better) ahead of time.

This allows the people you invited to show up prepared and ready to contribute.

Take responsibility for the meeting outcome

During the meeting you as a meeting leader are responsible for guiding everyone well though the meeting. You know what you wanted from this meeting and it is your responsibility to get it.

For each agenda item take few good notes. Not full minutes of everything said but only the things you want to highlight for participants if they go back to read up on the meeting. This is highly subjective and should be done by the meeting lead.

You should also write down each decision made and assign action items.

All this should not distract you from the meeting but should be quick and swift so you control the meeting outcome.

All of this is built into Workjoys meeting tool so you don't have to struggle with maintaining high meeting standards.

Use asynchronous meetings for better decisions

In a synchronous meeting I get peoples reaction, in an asynchronous meeting I get their reflection.

Matt Mullenweg, Founder of WordPress & Automattic

Few people use asynchronous meetings which is a shame as they are superior when it comes to making thoughtful decisions.

As Matt Mullenweg states above - when you are in a traditional synchronous meeting people only have a few seconds of time to think before it becomes awkward to now answer or the meeting moves to another topic. How many brilliant and insightful thoughts can you get in that time with everybody watching? Not many. Sadly this is how most decisions are done.

But by making the meeting asynchronous people can have days to think before responding and thus lead to powerful ideas and insights.