A meeting about meetings. Sounds silly, right? Recently, we decided it was time to have an open discussion about the way we conduct our internal meetings – how long should they last? Who needs to attend? Are devices permitted? Should we enforce “no meeting” blocks? What seems like a superfluous meeting topic at first is actually quite tactical. Here are a few reasons why it may be beneficial for your business to touch base on your meeting culture.
The point of having internal meetings is to come together, collaborate and hopefully, come up with solutions. In order for these things to happen, meeting participants need to 1) come prepared 2) come ready to focus. It’s difficult to come to a meeting prepared and focused if you’re slammed with other meetings all day, on top of other work that needs to get done.
To ensure that we’re able to come to meetings well-prepared and focused, we’ve implemented a few new meeting guidelines. Firstly, we decided that for formal meetings that need to cover a lot of ground, agendas are a must. Setting an agenda prior to a meeting helps to maximize the time spent in the meeting by keeping everyone on track and focused on the topic at hand. The more focused your time, the more productive your meeting. In addition to helping focus the meeting, a pre-set agenda helps everyone come ready to discuss each topic. By pre-determining the flow of the meeting, we also hope that this will help us spend less time in meetings as well.
In addition to time management, we’ve decided to spell out whose attendance is required and whose is optional. Meeting invitations will indicate who must attend and who is encouraged to attend. This keeps interested parties in the loop with the understanding that they can decline the invitation if other work needs to take priority during that time. Those who do attend are permitted to bring their devices with the expectation that they will only be in use if it’s relevant to the meeting.
We toyed with the idea of implementing a “no meeting day” once a week. Proponents of this measure argue that it allows for a solid day of uninterrupted work. While many of us were initially drawn to this idea, other team members who have previously worked in environments with “no meeting days” found that this resulted in a couple of days a week where they were slammed with meetings.
To strike a balance, we’re trying out “working blocks” instead. We agreed that for the time being, we will designate the first half of our Mondays and Tuesdays to “working blocks,” as well as the second half of our Fridays. Our hope is that this will result in a balanced meeting schedule throughout the week, with plenty of time to execute on client work.
By employing these simple guidelines, we are optimistic that our internal meetings will become more efficient, more collaborative and more productive. Work smarter, not harder!