How to have better and shorter meetings

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Meetings are an essential part of working life, and whether you find them exhausting or energizing, you’ll probably agree that most could make better use of your time. People of Intelligent Calendar Assistant Maker Clockwise says the time people spend in meetings has increased by 25% since the start of the pandemic-related lockdowns and that this trend is unlikely to reverse anytime soon.

Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks to make the meetings I organize more productive. For example, I schedule them all by default for 20 minutes instead of the usual 30 because I find the compressed schedule forces people to get to the point faster and we can always run a little further if needed.

However, I don’t have all the answers, so I crowdsourced the topic for business people on Qwoted to see how they get more miles from meetings. They did not disappoint.

Is the meeting necessary?

The best way to avoid wasting time in meetings is to not have the meeting in the first place. financing firm Octane urges managers to ask questions about who absolutely should attend, whether a group can send one person instead of three, and whether the meeting can be handled just as easily via email, said Maria Aveledo, chief business officer.

Madeline Pratt, CEO of Creative Consulting Foundry without fear, use the Chassis video sharing platform to create quick videos and finds it “a great way to communicate with our team without having to answer a call”. Another technology to avoid meetings that he applies is Slack Huddles to enable fast and informal virtual conversations.

Loom CEO Joe Thomas sends out a short recorded video in advance that illustrates the goals, agenda, and context of the meeting. “Sometimes that video ends up making the meeting itself useless,” he wrote.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

Not having a clear agenda is the quickest way to get a meeting off the rails. In Live storm, “We recommend appointing a chief meeting officer [on a rotating basis] who manages the agenda from A to Z and manages the entire meeting, “wrote CEO Gilles Bertaux.” Look at the agenda and decide if the meeting is really necessary or if it can be simply managed by e-mail “, he added.

Leadership Coach Bianca Riemer likes to post an agenda a few days before a meeting and invite attendees to come prepared with questions. “This has helped people to speak who would otherwise tend to keep quiet,” he wrote.

Owl workshops CEO Frank Weishaupt also sends “pre-read” documents one to three days in advance that exhaust what everyone needs to know and ask questions.

Once you have a plan, stick to it. Annie Pearl, chief product officer at the planning software maker Calendally, recommends canceling all meetings for which no agenda has been prepared. If new discussion items emerge after a meeting starts, “put them in a ‘parking lot’ to revisit later” so they can stay on track, he advised.

Make the most of your time

Video or not video? While the camera can be intrusive, it also forces us to give the impression that we’re paying attention, and that makes meetings go faster, Livestorm’s Bertaux noted. In his company, attendees are asked to keep their cameras on and turn off devices to minimize distractions.

Matt Harney, CTO at Vyond, estimates that reading email and retrieving messages during a meeting can make people 40 percent less productive. As tempting as it is to divert attention, don’t, he said.

Cloud computing specialist Susanne Tedrick recommends that you perform a technical check of your equipment and software before the meeting begins. That way, attendees don’t have to waste time trying to figure out why your microphone isn’t working.

Start meetings three minutes after the scheduled start time even if people keep coming in. “This sets a standard for punctuality,” wrote Anna Dearmon Kornick, head of the Clockwise community. Meeting owners should be responsible for overseeing the agenda, clock and pace, as well as explicitly indicating the purpose of the meeting and the expected results. “This keeps the discussion focused on the purpose of the meeting,” he wrote.

“It may sound counterintuitive, but you can speed up virtual meetings by spending 8% of your time on fun and social activities,” said Michael Alexis, CEO of the workplace event producer. Team building. Icebreakers put people at ease with each other, and organizers can ensure things don’t get out of hand by limiting social time to around five minutes per hour.

Pratt of Fearless Foundry agreed. Begin your weekly Monday meetings by asking people to share a summary of their weekend or a snippet of what’s going on in their life. “We have a better idea of ​​where everyone is emotionally going during the week,” he said. She also likes to close with an unusual question like “What are you looking forward to today?” that makes people smile.

Automated transcriptions are now a standard feature on most video conferencing platforms, and in my experience, they work well on everything but technical terms and proper names. “Key information can later be shared in a searchable and on-demand video library, which also allows employees to listen to meetings in their own time and quickly jump to the parts that are most relevant to them,” noted Mike Rich, vice president of strategic alliances a Panoptus, whose video sharing platform includes transcription.

The meetings will always be with us, but they shouldn’t monopolize our time. With tips like these, it’s not necessary.

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Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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