Principles for Meetings

How to have Efficient and Effective meetings

The following are a collection of ideas that I’ve collected over the years. These are principles (not rules).

1. Have a designated day for meetings

If possible, and it usually is, have a designated day for meetings. This doesn’t mean you should now feel the compulsion to fill your Mondays with meetings. If the meeting isn’t necessary avoid it. Try lump any necessary meetings in this day to create more time for deep work. Start by creating a “no meeting” day. For me this is Monday, this is when I do my weekly planning.

2. Don’t agree to meetings that don’t have an agenda

People schedule meetings out of laziness. I’ve seen this occur in workplaces many times – a problem arises and a meeting is promptly scheduled to solve the problem. Next time someone asks to schedule a meeting try this line: “Sure, could you please send me the 3 primary points that we’ll discuss via email?”. Most times you’ll be able to address concerns in that email without ever attending the meeting. You’ve just saved yourself 45mins.

3. Set up a meeting scheduling link

The link will help you avoid needless back-and-forth. Hand it out sparingly. Use Calendly, Morgen or your CRM.

4. Don’t let meetings go over time

Start meetings with this phrase: “Hey <name>, thank you for taking the time to meet with me, I unfortunately have a hard stop at <time>. If we don’t get through everything today we can schedule a follow up.” You probably won’t need the follow up. The hard stop gives you an out so you can excuse yourself while your fellow attendee is droning on.

5. Make notes

Duh, make notes on action items and who is committing to doing each task. There is no need for a summary of everything discussed. Transfer your action items to your task manager immediately after the meeting.

6. Neutral Territory

If you have an office, try not to meet there. This isn’t about power dynamics. This is about having an escape. It’s harder to kick someone out of your office. It’s easier to leave a boardroom or coffee shop.

7. Axe Recurring Meetings Ruthlessly

Especially with multiple people. Often, most of those people don’t need to be there. As managers we like to do this, but it’s a waste of our co-workers time. Only schedule multi-person meetings if it’s absolutely necessary.

Note: Brainstorming meetings are often unproductive.

See also: How Shopify cancelled all meetings

8 . Cancel fast, schedule slow

Reasons to cancel a meeting:

  • They’re late. 15mins or more, postpone.
  • The problem is solved

9. Power Points are pointless

Powerpoints are often just filler for poor thinking and problem solving. Rather, create a google doc, outline the following:

  • The problem
  • What has been tried so far to solve the problem
  • Proposed solutions to solve the problem

Send the document out and ask for comment before the meeting. Again, you may avoid another pointless meeting. Even better, you may avoid 45mins of someone say “uhm as you can see” while flicking through poorly designed power point slides.

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