Meetings That Don’t Waste Time
In our January blog series on Meeting Your 2018 Goals, we have included some information that just might help save you hours by running meetings that don’t waste time. Time that can be spent on income producing activities such as lead generation, channel development, and list building.
There is no denying that to communicate the goals of your business, eventually you will have to have a meeting. In-person meetings are necessary for sharing and discussing business. They help you gather visual feedback that would not translate in email or over the phone. Meetings are necessary, and you will have them.
Since meetings allow you to collaborate, gather counsel, and plan for next steps, it is high time we finally get them right.
Consequences of Inefficient and Ineffective Meetings
As you are aware, meetings can be the biggest time suck to your business’ productivity. There is nothing more frustrating than someone wasting time at your expense. We can all agree that we will never get those minutes or hours back.
We constantly compare* our time spent in a meeting to what we got out of it or what we could have done with the time instead. Your employees may already be reading articles about how to avoid unnecessary meetings.
*Hint: It will never be an equal trade off. When schedules are tight, it can seem as though we are in a constant state of unproductive meeting. If you calculated the amount of time you spend in meetings, you would be shocked.
With that said, the balance of time spent vs. effectiveness gained can be tipped more in your favor. According to experts such as Darren Hardy, it takes planning, discipline, and accountability. Your planning, discipline, and accountability.
“Preparation determines outcomes.” – Darren Hardy, The Compound Effect
Below is a summary (with Chameleon Group commentary) of a training video from Darren Hardy about running more effective meetings.
We all want to be more productive and effective. Meetings help us get there. Here are some best practices for running the kind of meeting you wish you could attend.
What’s the Purpose?
Most certainly you would like to be able to determine the level of necessity of a meeting in advance. It starts by identifying the purpose of the meeting and writing it out for clarification.
By doing so, you can turn a 45 minute presentation into a five minute approval or two minute phone call. Meeting over. Continually asking, “For what purpose?” in regards to why you are meeting will surely whittle down a list to the one or two things that should be covered in a meeting.
You may discover you do not need a meeting at all.
If something can be approved or decided by one person or through a phone call, then there is no need to put that item on the agenda.
Establish the rules of engagement.
Be on time.
Holding people accountable shows them you are serious. Start the meeting when it is scheduled to begin. When people show up late, verbalize that the meeting started on time and you expect attendees to be on time (early) and prepared. Continue the meeting.
Do not get flustered when everyone shows up late the first couple times. Be consistent with your expectation and hold people accountable.
In truth, people will treat you how you allow them to treat you. Being late to a meeting is disrespectful and rude and can be a symptom to a deeper attitude issue. If you allow it, it will never go away.
No exceptions. This keeps focus on the task at hand. You would be amazed how many houses do not burn down during a 30 minute meeting. Sales people will cry that they need to be available for “the” call. Remind them to schedule their client calls in advance outside of meeting times.
Allowing phones, laptops, and tablets in a meeting puts the meeting attendees on an electric dog collar that will shock them anytime anyone anywhere has a random thought or question for them. Including their family.
There are very few real emergencies that can not wait. Ask employees to give your family the main business number to call if there is a true emergency. Your Administrative Assistant has the authority to interrupt in a real emergency. That is the only allowable interruption.
Designate a TimeKeeper/Enforcer.
A member of your staff will watch the clock and give a two minute warning when the conversation is nearing the allotted time slot on the agenda. At this point, your staff member reiterates key points that have been decided or need follow up, assigns a person to complete and report back on the follow up tasks, and picks a deadline for when this will be completed. A group of people can work on the follow up together, but only one will be responsible and held accountable.
If the topic needs more discussion before a decision can be made, then it warrants its own meeting at another time with its own agenda. Additional preparation by each attendee will be needed for that meeting to also be efficient.
Your staff person will also be given authority to enforce a hard stop and move the group onto the next agenda item.
Create an Invite list
In order to be efficient, you will need to decide in advance who should be there, for which agenda item, and at what time. Not everyone’s input is needed to discuss and decide. Only the key players.
Include in your agenda a list of key contributors and guest appearances. Key contributors would be at the entire meeting. Guests would be called in and excused at the appropriate time to contribute to the meeting for the appropriate agenda items.
Unless you have a major announcement that you are making to the entire organization all at once there is no need for everyone to all be in the same room at the same time for an entire meeting.
Darren Hardy suggests sending out a draft of the items that you have decided will be on your agenda. Sending the draft agenda in advance creates an opportunity to solicit suggestions. You are not required to add anything. You are required to get clarification on the purpose of their suggestion (see above: What’s the Purpose?).
Once you have finalized the agenda send it out to all the invitees in advance with any needed reference materials. You are setting the expectation that they will be prepared for the meeting.
Life Goal: Spend more time on the agenda then in the meeting.
It’s Meeting Time!
At the beginning, remind key contributors of the purpose of the meeting. Designate your timekeeper/enforcer and reiterate the rules of the agenda (hard stops, two minute warnings).
Encourage debate. Darren Hardy believes that If everyone is in agreement then there is no need for a meeting. Your key contributors and special guests should be prepared with any opposing views and the data to back them up. The decision is about to be made. This will be their only opportunity to share other views.
Remember that the idea is to battle concepts, not people. Not giving credibility to new ideas stifles creativity and willingness to contribute.
Your timekeeper/enforcer is responsible for summarizing action items, who is responsible for follow up, and deadlines for the follow up. Once the meeting has ended, circulate the key points and an accountability task list.
In your meeting follow up, ask the attendees to rate the meeting.
Rate the meeting? Sure! Ask those in attendance to rate the effectiveness and efficiency of the meeting. There is nothing like feedback to motivate improvement.
We hope you have gleaned some helpful hints on our commentary.
If you would like to get to know Chameleon and understand how we help our clients meet their goals through lead generation, channel development, and list building, then contact us for an initial consultation. We look forward to “meeting” you!