Try to ask people what's the biggest time waste in corporate life and everybody will start complaining about meetings.
Search for "meeting" in the Amazon book store and you will find titles such as: Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable, Let's Stop Meeting Like This and Meetings Suck.
In his excellent blog post, Brian Rumao, the Chief of Staff to the CEO at LinkedIn, writes: How LinkedIn Execs Run Meetings. Brian's conclusion is that great meetings require good preparation and clear agenda communicated before the meeting; Balanced discussion and commitment to clear action items during the meeting, followed by effective execution after the meeting.
Are these conclusions surprising to you? I am sure not. And yet while everybody knows the theory, most of us find it hard to prepare well before the meeting, to document the discussion and action items during the meeting and to track the execution after the meeting.
If you are a manager running a regular team meeting or staff meeting, you may face real obstacles that prevent you from running such great meetings:
Running from one meeting to the other doesn't leave you a lot of time to prepare. Many times you are lucky to make the next meeting on time.
When you lead a meeting, your whole mind is occupied with leading. No brain-power is left for taking notes and documenting action items. Even if you manage to take notes hoping to put them together and send a decent summary after the meeting… well, we know after the meeting you have another meeting.
So we know that running great meetings can make a real difference and we know it's hard to actually do it. Now what can we do about it?
Don't try to fix everything at once. Select the most important weekly/monthly meeting that you run and try to make it great.
Make a habit to write the agenda for each meeting in advance. 2-3 topics are enough. Set time in your calendar for this activity. Make sure to share it with participants.
If you cannot afford a good chief of staff, appoint someone to take notes and document action items on your behalf.
Get a tool that you can use to structure the meeting and the summary.
Make sure that the tool you are using can track action items after the meeting, and give you a quick view of the status.
Use the tool to prepare for the next meetings. Make sure you can get a quick view of what's done and what's overdue. Recognize people who completed action items. Hold people accountable to their commitment from past meetings.
Use the same tool to prepare for 1:1 meetings, and here again, recognize action and hold people accountable to their commitment.
Can you share with us your original way of running great business meetings?
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