Illustration for article titled Take Responsibility for Your Fucking MeetingsPhoto: Andrey_Popov (Shutterstock)

Often times, a group of people will take time to meet on their working day without seeming to have a clear direction. This is especially annoying in the pandemic, as remote working means we’re all a little more distracted than usual and video conferencing, with all its imperfections, only adds to the frustration of an aimless meeting.

However, there are ways to ensure your meetings stay on track without exceeding allotted deadlines or confusing attendees as to what time the meeting should actually begin.

Illustration for article titled Take Responsibility for Your Fucking Meetings

Why meetings lose their effectiveness

When everything is done right, everyone working together in the same room (or screen) leads to collaboration. However, there are reasons why meetings rarely hit the brand – and the most important of them is that there are just too many meetings.

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Workers often complain about the frequency of meetings, and for good reason. As the Harvard Business Review in 2017 stated The frequency of meetings has skyrocketed over the past 50 years:

Such complaints are backed up by research that shows meetings have increased in length and frequency over the past 50 years, to the point where executives spend an average of nearly 23 hours a week in them versus less than 10 hours in the 1960s.

To reduce the stress of meeting congestion, consider having fewer of them. The sheer amount of daily meetingss is breathtaking, reaching more than 55 million people a day in 2015.

Or, as a countermeasure, consider adding your hour-long meetings to daily or twice-daily stand-up meetings. When everyone is at their desks, it means that you are only glossing over the most important tasks so you don’t want to take responsibility for keeping everyone on their feet. The latter option comes with everyone in the same physical room, of course, but it’s a viable option as we’ll be returning to our offices (hopefully) later this year.

When you have meetings, you have a goal in mind

If you’re a team leader, the easiest way to reduce the length of a meeting is to have an agenda. If there is a clearly outlined plan, you are less likely to deviate from course. If necessary, outline the deadlines for the meeting and stick to the schedule. Obviously, there is nothing worse than a meandering conversation that costs everyone valuable time. So stick to a bulleted list and watch the clock.

Setting the agenda or overall goal can be done in a number of ways, without being limited to putting a bulleted list on a document or outlining the parameters of the meeting in an email invitation.

Illustration for article titled Take Responsibility for Your Fucking Meetings

Be proactive

You all know the sight: a bunch of flashing faces staring blankly at their screens with low cameras, waiting for someone – someone – to start talking. If you are the team leader, take the initiative to let everyone know that you are in charge. This means going through the agenda and postponing the conversation accordingly.

Identify the broader purpose

Of course, an agenda has the specific points you want to address, but what is the goal of keeping everyone off their job for an hour if you don’t want to make it easier or more productive? When you hold a meeting, there needs to be a general idea of ​​what you want to achieve. Is it important to examine certain analyzes to see what you can learn from data? Is it to get a sense of morality?

Every organization and team has different needs, but the general tenor of your approach should match what business consultant Amy Drader has outlined. they writes about the need for clear goals in an article for her consulting firm Growth Partners Consulting:

A solid meeting goal will be action-oriented, e.g. B. Make a decision or solve a problem. It could sound like this: “The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the xyz problem and identify three possible solutions to be tested next week.” The meeting goal is clearly stated at the top of the meeting invitation when you schedule it. This informs each participant of what they should be prepared for in this meeting.

Each group will have a different goal, but the means to achieve those goals should always follow a similar roadmap.