Meetings suck: How can we make them more productive?

Blog
16.04.20

In our previous blog, we discussed the importance of building and nurturing a learning culture at S&S. As part of this, we’ve been spending the time upskilling ourselves and the business.

In the nature of ‘pay it forward’, Emma Goodbrand, EA to our CEO Pat and the backbone of making sure S&S runs smoothly, shares her insights from Cameron Herold’s book, Meetings Suck (because quite frankly, the wrong type of meetings do suck). Over to you Emma…

Meetings – we either leave them feeling invigorated or as we’ve just wasted an hour of our working day. At S&S we spend a lot of time talking things through and popping in the occasional hour meeting, which could easily be 15 minutes instead.

So, with everyone now working from home and meetings being removed or shortened in the diary, I thought it would be the perfect time to tighten up our ship and make sure every bit of our time is spent delivering value.

And so enter Cameron Herold’s book, Meetings Suck and what a godsend it has been! I learnt a lot from this book, which is why I wanted to share a few of my key takeaways.

Always include an agenda

I wanted to start with the agenda as it’s the most important and generally the first to be dropped. By sending an agenda ahead of every meeting it allows others to plan ahead, prepare if necessary and also to opt-in or out if they feel they cannot add or gain value.

We’ve enforced a new rule at S&S that if a meeting doesn’t have an agenda, then we can decline it. By creating the right type of habit, it will create value further down the line.

Correctly manage every meeting

If you’re running a meeting, always think of yourself as the CEO; who do I need, how long for and what is this costing the business. If you see every person as £50 an hour, that person attending four meetings in a week would cost the business £200, £800 a month and £9,600 a year! Choose wisely – if you have a clear agenda, you can even match up the points to the people you need input from, so really there is no excuse.

Once you’re clear you have the right people, for the right length of time, then half that time. The agenda will create a focus on what needs to be accomplished, so will increase productivity.

Hold focus

It seems pretty simple but ban phones and technology devices or layout the rules before a meeting starts for example laptops can only be used for notes.

If you’re leading the meeting, hold back your ideas until the end, allowing others to offer their insights first, to keep them focused. You could even consider asking the least experienced participant to go first, to help them stay engaged, but also encouraging them to grow.

Be present

Enter any meeting with a give and take mindset. This will allow you to be present and in turn, impact meetings in a positive way. Also, understand that everyone in that meeting is there for a reason, so give time to hear them out too – treat everyone as equal.

When a good, healthy debate starts, don’t fear conflict. By talking it through, it could lead to better, more informed decisions. Then once the meeting is over, all discussion on the matter is closed, so everyone should leave the room knowing that a decision was reached, as a team.

In summary, although some of these points are obvious, we still don’t spend the time really thinking about the impact an hour-long meeting may have on our productivity and those around us. If we could all follow at least three of Cameron’s pointers, then we’d all be on our way to delivering more value and hopefully believing meetings no longer suck!

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Written by Sullivan & Stanley