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  • Lluís M. Ventura

Meetings are part of your day, so how can you optimize them?

It’s a fact that meetings are a part of your day. They’re essential for syncing, making decisions and plans, coordinating with each other, and, most importantly, defining the company’s culture. Even these days when COVID-19 has forced the whole world to work remotely, meetings are even more present in our everyday life.

When we ask people about their main problems with meetings (including remote ones) some things are always on the list:

  • There are too many

  • They are too long

  • There are too many people invited

  • They don’t have a clear agenda

  • They don’t help to make decisions

  • Attendees don’t know what they have to do when the meeting is over

So, what can we do to make your meeting time more effective?

1. Transform meetings into emails.

Especially for the meetings that are just meant to be informative or about status - an email will be enough. It is asynchronous and will work even better than an hour meeting.

2. Transform meetings into conversations.

Ask yourself this: Could this topic be accomplished by speaking to an individual? If so, go for it, now, and avoid sitting 8 people in a room for an hour. You can share the decisions made with everyone later.

3. Keep them short and focused on a few things.

30 minutes or less should be enough. Keep the agenda as short as possible, with one or two things to discuss and always go directly to the point.

4. Always have an agenda that you’ve shared in advance and give space to others to contribute to it.

No meetings without a shared agenda in advance! Clarify the purpose of the time you need, and give them space to add discussion points. This will engage other attendees to participate more and be prepared.

5. Write down meeting notes and next-steps while in the meeting.

Most of our meetings (especially the internal ones) don’t need long minutes to be written. But clearly write down those decisions and next-steps in every meeting. Highlight the important things. You can do it during the meeting.

6. Share notes and next-steps just after the meeting.

People have a lot of meetings during a week, so they will forget most of what you discussed and decided. Share your notes and be clear about what needs to be accomplished, when and by whom. This will save tons of time for questions and follow-ups

7. Keep track of the next steps of your meetings.

Make next steps visual and available, so that things are not forgotten. If you have 10-15 meetings per week this will be your 2nd brain for accomplishing your agreed to-dos and moving work forward.

8. Start with a short follow-up on past meeting agreements.

When meetings about a topic are recurring, always start your meetings with a short follow-up of decisions and next-step statuses. This will help everyone be accountable and in sync.

9. Provide all of the context in advance (past meeting notes, relevant emails and docs you may need in your conversation).

Prepare the meeting in advance including past meeting notes, documents, or emails that are relevant to the topic you are discussing. Stop losing time during the meeting and prepare 5 minutes in advance. You will save time and keep the discussion on what matters.

10. Provide and ask for feedback about the meetings you attend to keep improving them.

Revisit the dynamics of your meetings from time to time. Ask for feedback and provide it when you attend. Are people engaged? What can we change to make them better? Is it necessary to do it weekly? Keep things moving.

Meetings are part of your day, let’s accept that. But, as David Bonilla said, the problem is not meeting, but meeting wrong. Hold your team members accountable and help them to be effective with tools like Comeet.me, which allows them to be collaborative, focused, and proactive. Comeet creates a space in each event of your Calendar to write down and share agendas, decisions, and to-dos while keeping track of them seamlessly. That simple, that powerful.

This way, you will either become or easily recognize a good leader: they will send emails as long as they can instead of holding meetings, they will invite only the necessary people, they will promote the use of tools like Comeet, Slack, GCalendar and, in the end, good leaders will care about employees not wasting their precious time.