Time toilets. That is what a friend calls meetings. Given the steady increase in meetings since the pandemic, it is hardly surprising that so many people think that most meetings are a waste of our precious time. What does a well-formed meeting look like anyway?
In simple terms, a well-formed meeting has a purpose (goal), a plan (agenda) and only essential, active participants. According to various sources, there are many kinds of meetings that dominate management’s calendars and interrupt maker’s flow. Well-formed meetings require the right tools and lifecycle to have impact and advance your goals.
Meeting Prep – Before firing off meeting invites, write down the purpose and ask yourself if it can be accomplished with an email, chat or even a shared collaborative document. Who absolutely needs to actively participate in decisions or brainstorming? Who just needs to be informed of the meeting outcomes? What information or work product is required to meet the goals?
During the Meeting – Start the meeting by stating the purpose, agenda and desired outcomes of the meeting. If privacy and policy allow meeting recording and transcription, do it. Teams does not make it easy to manage recordings and transcripts, but a transcript enables attendees to focus on the meeting content instead of trying to memorize it. A good system of note taking should allow you to document insights, consensus decisions and action items while allowing you to stay focused on the meeting. I like to close the meeting with a recap to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
Post Meeting – This is where most of us fail to carry through on the meeting goals. It is critical to circulate the meeting summary to attendees and stakeholders in a timely manner. That can be a challenge with longer meetings with multiple topics. Beyond memorizing discussion points, decisions and key facts, the summary should include progress towards goals, task assignments and shared insights. The summary can be published as part of the next meeting invitation or that meeting can just be scheduled if results will impact the next agenda.
Meetings can drive progress or flush your valuable time down the drain. Invest in creating well-formed meetings to avoid time toilets. Experiment with your meeting lifecycle and measure the outcomes. Do participants close out tasks without reminders? Do stakeholders ask questions or make suggestions from the summaries? Meetings are opportunities to create and build community around shared goals.
If you want to see how we have been developing tools to ease the burden of meetings, visit Know-Now and register for our early beta program.
As Chief Innovation Officer, Greg Buckles pilots transformation at KnowNow and Factor10x.