• Jon Mechan

Meetings of the Mind

People hate meetings.

Now I don't believe that's actually true. People hate meetings that are pointless, inefficient, and a waste of time.

That's because many meetings could just be an email. So reserve your meeting time for actual discussions, not for pure information sharing.


Previously I've talked about how to better prioritize your work, and how to structure your week in a way that serves you better. Today's subject is how to improve the ultimate calendar-filler, meetings.



 

There's a ton of information out there on running effective meetings, but actually I think it's pretty simple. A good meeting should have:

· a purpose and agenda

· a leader / facilitator and the right attendees

· space for conversation about the topic at hand

A purpose and agenda tell the attendees what the meeting is about, and thus how to prepare for it, and allows you to stay on topic.

A leader or facilitator ensures that you cover what you want to cover, and gives someone responsibility to ensure something actionable is taken away. The right attendees are there to contribute to the discussion and ensure good decisions are made.

This last point is the most important in my opinion. If there's no discussion then it may as well have been an email or a Teams \ Slack message.

Especially in the context of more remote-first or hybrid working, dialogue is more important than ever. Not just about the topic of the meeting, but for the intangible relationship building that comes from open conversation.




Meeting Length


I believe that meetings have a habit of expanding to fill their scheduled time. Most meetings could be 20-30 minutes, or even less, but because they're booked for an hour, they take an hour.

One of the most effective things you can do here is to shorten default meeting times - 50mins instead of 1hr. Outlook for example allows you to set your default meeting length. If your meetings have to be back-to-back in your calendar, at least buy yourself some time to change contexts in between.

 

Here's an experiment for you to try. Look at your next couple of weeks of meetings. How many of them are blocked at an hour or longer? How many could be a 30min meeting instead? Try changing some of your meetings to see if they can work in smaller slots.

 

That's all for this time. The next article will be about one of the most important meetings a leader can have - the one-on-one.

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