We most likely have all experienced ineffective and tiresome meetings. Meetings where you have to go through a never ending pile of papers and documents and that seem to drag on forever. There should be a more effective way to organize meetings, right? Luckily, there are a lot of tools that can help you organize your meeting to make it more effective. These tools can help organizations get more out of a meeting and do it in a more time efficient way. But where do you find these tools? Look further no more. We provide the ultimate toolbox for meeting organizers, uniquely tailored to their specific needs.
So what are meetings for?
Meetings achieve desired outcomes like the following:
When you clearly identify the purpose of a meeting to both yourself and the people present, all concerned can start to prepare for the meeting.
How does it work?
A team that is focused and knows what the meeting will be all about.
Tip: Keep your comments regarding the subject of the meeting to yourself and leave other issues for another time.
How to make your message stick? Say it in 5 words: ‘Today we decide on…’
Stick to the agenda / do not allow scope creep
Scope creep is what happens when changes are made to the scope of a project without any control.
Want to stay on subject, but there are many issues that by association pertain to what the meeting addresses?
Plan out five bullet points
Tip: Use a competent meeting facilitator.
If a meeting facilitator is not aware of all the ins and outs that apply to the subject of the meeting, input from members of the meeting is allowed.
At the start of the meeting members of the team may submit all of their input for discussion points. A real-time agenda is hereby created.
When the agenda is set, no discussion points may be added.
How to structure your agenda
Read these blogs on how to structure your agenda for the perfect meeting:
Meetings that do not start on time take longer and are less effective.
This sends a strong but unwritten message about punctuality and purpose. When you say the meeting starts at 8:37, it’s clear you mean exactly 8:37.
A couple of minutes late? No mercy. You sing. ‘Chicago – Does Anybody Know What Time It Is’
Limit the number of people, but…. make sure to include the right people:
The 10-person rule at Google is based on a fast-moving, start-up culture where work time is precious for each employee. The leaner the invite list > more time for the uninvited to forge ahead with other work.
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos came up with a solution: the “two pizza rule”: Never have a meeting where two pizzas couldn’t feed the entire group.
Meeting leaders need to be skilled at ‘redirecting’.
What is redirecting? This is getting meeting attendees back on topic when they stray from the focus of the meeting.
Do not forget!
Piece of paper to jot down other topics to be discussed outside of the meeting
Have people turn off their phones until the meeting is over. Get everyone’s best attention and thinking so time is utilized most effectively.
When the phone rings, that person puts a pound note into the donation basket.
When you only use a laptop to take notes, you do not absorb new information as well. Typing notes encourages mindless transcription.
Finished a topic and moved on? No turning back to the topic. Save it for after the meeting or for another time.
To get the most out of a meeting with a lot of expertise present, everyone should be able to speak on a subject, as long as they do not veer off topic.
There should be room to interrupt a speaker if one’s own input adds to the conversation.
Employees indicate to others that a topic has already been addressed by raising the “No Rehash” Ping-Pong paddle.
Having a set time in mind when a meeting should end is made easier by scheduling it before lunch time, before another meeting or before a client visit.
Using a timer is great for quick huddle meetings, small team meetings or video calls.
This amount should be shared by all of the team and not only the moderator or manager so everyone is involved in keeping the meeting brief and to the point.
The standing posture also keeps every attendant engaged and focused.
This helps to keep the meeting short and sweet. One can even increase the number of pushups if the meeting has run for a certain amount of time.
Influence ways of thinking
Building a level of understanding about others in the group provides the confidence that the meeting is a safe place to say openly what each person is really thinking about the issues they are facing together.
Do a quick round of introduction
Guy Kawasaki, a business guru and best-selling author, advises business leaders to assemble their team before making critical decisions such as launching a product or service. He suggests seizing these moments to say:
“Let us pretend that our product, our company failed. Now, what are all the possible reasons?”
They may include:
The point is to get people imagining everything that could go wrong, so they can take steps to fix problems before they happen.
“Conduct a pre-mortem so that you never have to conduct a post-mortem.”
How could this add to a more productive meeting? Well, humor can enhance creativity, encourage collaboration and even improve long-term job performance.
Silence is an ideal way to encourage deep thinking and ideas, while conducting a meeting.
Since few of us can think deeply while we’re talking, the two-minute silence break gives a chance to mull over a decision, issue, or stalemate.
Each hat represents a different perspective. Each team member wears each hat in turn.
White Hat: Objective facts and figures, used at the beginning of the meeting to establish relevant facts and information about the issue to be discussed.
Red Hat: To get people’s gut reactions to an idea or when you want the team to express their emotions freely.
Black Hat: When you want to get the critical viewpoint of an idea or situation. The ‘devil’s advocate’ hat helps decrease the chances of making a poor decision.
Yellow Hat: Identifies the value of ideas and plans. The Yellow Hat helps counterbalance the judgmental thinking of the Black Hat.
Green Hat: Generates fresh ideas and new directions. This is a very powerful hat that each player needs to wear.
Blue Hat: Sets objectives, outlines the situation, and defines the problem in the beginning of the meeting and returns at the end to summarize and draw conclusions.
Coloring during a meeting helps promote active listening, and is more helpful than multitasking on something like email.
Change environment to change thinking
Play a match of basketball to foster collaboration and creative thinking.
Walk during a meeting to get the blood flowing and boost your intellectual capacity.
Employees who bring solutions play a crucial problem-solving role, take more ownership in the success of your team, and free you up to stay focused elsewhere.
At Apple, the DRI’s name will appear on an agenda for a meeting, so everybody knows who is responsible.
“Any effective meeting at Apple will have an action list,” says a former employee.
“Next to each action item will be the DRI.”
When a few members of the team are handpicked to act and take responsibility publicly for actions that are decided upon in the meeting, a responsibility to themselves and the team is created. This is a strong motivator.
Meeting minutes capture the vital information of a meeting – decisions and designated actions. They keep attendants on track by reminding them of their role in a project and clearly define what happened in a group session.
Minutes can be saved and used for reference or background material for future meetings that relate to the same topic.
Minutes should be distributed immediately if possible. Not longer than the day of the meeting. Anything longer than that and two problems arise:
How do you excuse yourself without starting trouble? What is your exit strategy?
1. Stay focused on your partner
Give the one engaging with you your full attention until the time is right to leave.
2. Plan ahead
If you know that you’re going to leave early, sit close to the boardroom door. This avoids clumsily getting up next to the boss at the head of the table and having to ask people to please move their chairs to let you through.
3. Phony phone call
Fake a phone call and leave with “I just need to quickly sort this out. Please continue without me.”
4. Do not overshare
If you do need the bathroom, you do not necessarily have to tell anyone. Sometimes not oversharing is better. “Please excuse me” and a follow up later if needed.
5. Conflicting schedule
If you can, blame your schedule. You have too many meetings at the same time and need to figure stuff out.
Leadership guru John Maxwell has written that “the secret to a good meeting is the meeting before the meeting.”
“The meeting before the meeting” is the process of checking in with key players before the larger meeting to gain their buy-in, develop trust, and avoid being blindsided later on.
Ask your executives for 15 minutes of time before the big meeting. Test your thoughts and ideas and hear about their concerns. Make them part of the process so that by the time the big meeting comes, they feel like they have a stake in it.
Your goal in each of these “mini-meetings” is:
Here are some questions to pose to your potential backers about your idea:
If the answer is “no,” it is better that you know now while you still have a chance to correct course before the big meeting.
A stand-up meeting (or simply “stand-up”) is a meeting in which attendants participate while standing. The discomfort of standing for long periods is intended to keep the meetings short.
A hardstop is the finite ending time of meeting or get together. In a meeting, when the set out time comes, the meeting is over.
“Can we get together on Sunday night, at 7:30 PM, with a HARD STOP at 9:30?”
Try for example briefing, huddle, scrum, brainstorm, forum, check in, time out, heads up: these suggest what the meet is for and how it is going to be run.
Distribute the leadership of larger meetings: the host is the person who is responsible for the business outcome, the leader is the person responsible for “driving” the meeting. Get different people to lead the agenda, take notes, keep time and so on. Let the host keep an overview and listen to what is going on.
Focus on one thing
If you have two things to achieve, see if you can design two short meetings around a break – rather than one long one.
Make it an experience
Think of every meeting as an experience, and of everyone taking part as your audience. Make it an experience worth having, or cancel the meeting.
The Law of Two Feet: if you choose to attend a meeting, you must either;
If you can not do either, you are responsible to get up, leave, and go somewhere where one of those two things will happen.
You give one person full control over when a meeting should end. Give this person a timer.
There are a number of tools that make meetings more easy to manage. Here we share a few of them.
Meeting Bot works with your work calendar to find availability and book meetings instantly in Slack. You can also instantly find available meeting rooms and anonymously notify people when they’re late for a meeting. Works with Google, Office365, and Exchange. www.meetingbot.io
Slack is meant for teams and workplaces, can be used across multiple devices and platforms, and is equipped with robust features that allow you to not only chat one-on-one with associates but also in groups. You are able to upload and share files with them too, as well as integrate with other apps and services, such as Skype for video calls, and you can granularly control almost every setting, including the ability to create custom emoji’s. www.slack.com
Ryver is a team communication tool that organizes team collaboration, chats, files, and even emails into a single location, for any size team. www.ryver.com
Skype is software that enables the world’s conversations. Millions of individuals and businesses use Skype to make free video and voice one-to-one and group calls, send instant messages and share files with other people on Skype. You can use Skype on your mobile, computer or tablet. www.skype.com
Basecamp is a project management app that you can access in your browser and on your phone. It gives you the tools you need to set up to-do’s, a schedule, create and upload documents and files, message and chat with your colleagues, and check in regularly with your group. www.basecamp.com
Redbooth is a web-based collaboration tool. Among its key features are: project organization; create as many projects as necessary to meet your team’s needs, and task management; tasks are organized into task lists under the relevant project. www.redbooth.com
Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. In one glance, Trello tells you what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process. www.trello.com
More at : Where to sit at a conference table
(to envoke questions people otherwise would not dare to ask)
With ‘Effective Meetings: The Ultimate Toolbox’, there is absolutely no need to feel intimidated by any meeting you will have in the future. Do you have any suggestions to add to the toolbox? Send us an email and help us keep our toolbox up-to-date! You can also download our e-Book!