At Geben, we have a standing team meeting once a week where the whole agency comes together to analyze and solve problems. Sometimes, they’re client/project-specific, but more often than not, they’re things like time management, planning and how to address agency-wide growing pains. The whole meeting usually only takes 15-20 minutes, and those minutes are some of the most productive of the week.
Coincidentally, the discussion during this meeting a few weeks ago addressed the growing number of meetings on everyone’s calendars.
To some extent, as we continue to grow our staff, they’re a necessary evil: We rely on standing client meetings, internal team “huddles” and miscellaneous project touchbases to keep us all on the same page. So, how can we streamline the meetings that are necessary, and eliminate the ones that aren’t?
I thought the ideas were worth sharing (and if you have additional tips, I’d love to hear yours too!):
- Always have an agenda. This way, everyone comes to the meeting knowing exactly what needs to be addressed or accomplished. Plus, you have a reference point to get the conversation back on track if anyone loses focus.
- Focus on outcomes. Nothing makes me crazier than coming out of a meeting with no clear results or action items assigned. Don’t call a meeting unless you can clearly state the specific objective you want to accomplish. Similarly, don’t end a meeting until you’ve made sure that everyone involved knows what they’re responsible for doing to work toward that objective.
- Plan ahead. If you’re leading the meeting, send the agenda, objective/desired outcome and any necessary background information at least 24 hours in advance. That way, everyone attending has time to familiarize themselves with the particular client, topic or opportunity you’re discussing. (Reverse, if you’re attending the meeting, plan to spend 15-20 minutes reviewing all of this info to make sure you’re fully prepared!)
- Be fully present. The more focused you are, the quicker you’ll solve the problem/challenge at hand. Don’t be that person who’s only half engaged in the conversation and trying to juggle multiple other projects at the same time. (Pro tip: Stand up, or take a walking meeting, as often as possible. Both are proven to boost productivity and creativity!)
- Schedule smartly. If you have multiple short meetings in one day, group them together into one longer one. That way, you’ll eliminate unnecessary downtime in between meetings when you likely won’t be able to fully concentrate anyway.
- Time = dollars. Evaluate your meeting time in dollars instead of minutes. When you realize quick 20-minute meetings are actually costing your company hundreds of dollars (or more!), I can guarantee you’ll start to think twice about whether or not they’re absolutely necessary.