How to run more efficient, effective, and engaging meetings

If you missed our inaugural Office Hours, never fear! We’ve got the recap below, or you can watch the video here. 

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Every other Wednesday, our Head of Community Anna Dearmon Kornick will host a LIVE deep dive into a different time management topic. Then, we'll open up the floor for your questions and coaching.

This week we learned how to make our meetings more efficient, effective, and engaging. 

And it couldn’t come at a better time. 

  • Time spent in meetings has more than doubled in the last year and continues to climb.
  • Meetings are getting longer.  The standard 30-minute touchbase is being left behind, replaced with a 45-minute jam session instead. 
  • The average employee spends 85% of their work week in meetings

Anything that takes up that much work time should be as productive as possible. That’s why Anna walked us through how to make our meetings more efficient, effective, and engaging.

Keys to an efficient meeting 

A meeting is efficient if no time is wasted. There are three steps to making sure you’re not wasting time in meetings. 

1. Establish a clear purpose

Everyone should know why the meeting is happening and why they’re there. First step? Audit your meetings to be sure every meeting on your calendar really is necessary. Another tool that can help you is our 1:1 dashboard where you can see, evaluate, and move all your 1:1 meetings at a glance. 

2. Create an agenda

The next tip for an efficient meeting is to create an agenda for each meeting ahead of time. Templates are your friend here. 

3. Start on time

Lastly, efficient meetings start and end on time. Try the two-minute rule to help change norms. Always start the meeting within two minutes of the official start time. That way people learn to show up or miss out.

Keys to an effective meeting

A meeting that's effective is one in which everyone is prepared, aligned on purpose and ready to go. An effective meeting ends on time or early. 

To get there: 

1. State the purpose of your meeting at the top of the meeting 

2. Wrap with a recap. Restate next steps, assignments, and deadlines 

Keys to an engaging meeting

A meeting that’s engaging is one in which each attendee understands participation expectations and asks the right questions.

You want to set clear expectations around:

  • How each person should participate
  • When each person should participate
  • What each person should contribute to the discussion

The right questions are open-ended, but direct.

Good: “Thoughts?” 

Better: “How could we improve this piece of the project?”

Best: “What are some ideas you have for making the product more valuable for the user?”

Q&A

Q: What can meeting participants (who are not organizers) do to make meetings more efficient, effective, and engaging. It’s hard to see opportunities for improvement and know how to improve things when you don’t have the power to implement changes top-down. 

Anna recommended stepping into a volunteer leadership role whenever possible. Take any opportunity you have to improve things. For example, try asking “Would you like me to create an agenda for this meeting?” “Can we just recap to make sure we’re on the same page?” 

Q: How do you retain operational authority in a meeting when you’re not an expert on the subject matter at hand? 

Fortunately, the framework of a well-run meeting is the same regardless of the topic. Make sure you’re clear and confident on the purpose of the meeting before the meeting starts.  You’ll feel and appear more confident. 

Q: What are your favorite ways to politely shut down stakeholders trying to make the meeting go over time? 

We all want to be heard. When you start your meeting with a clear purpose it makes it easier to take the conversation back to the stated purpose. Try this: “Let’s bring our discussion back to the intended purpose of our meeting. I’d love to talk more about this offline.” 

Q: How do I get rid of inessential meetings? 

Start with a lightweight calendar audit. Challenge yourself to articulate why the meeting isn’t as relevant. For example, maybe a team member has successfully onboarded and no longer needs 2x/weekly meetings. Again, state the purpose of the meeting. Has that purpose been fulfilled? Send a survey asking people to rate a meeting as effective or ineffective. 

Q: Meeting icebreakers, yea or nay? 

Depends on your company culture. If you use them, keep the discussion to 5 minutes or less.

Q: Where can we find templates for meeting agendas? 

These are often best created by the group. When you draft your agenda, start by stating purpose and end with a wrap and recap. Take a template for a weekly team meeting, for example. Bring it to the team and ask what key points the group should cover every week. Anna likes to store meeting templates in a simple Google Doc. You can link a Google Doc in the recurring meeting invite. Everyone can go in and add their agenda items each week. You can also do this in Asana. 

Q: How do you handle back-to-back meetings? 

Start by planning the day before. Make sure you have everything you need before the marathon begins. Another tip: Use Clockwise smart meeting breaks. Tip from a participant: Make some of them walking meetings for a quick energy boost while getting things done.

Be sure you make the next Office Hours to ask your own questions by registering here!

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Time Management

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