Hi! I'm Kyle Ingham, Founder of The Distilled Man.
And today I want to talk to you about how to run an efficient meeting.
Now meetings can be one of the biggest wastes of time in office culture
and I would wager that probably 5 out of 10 meetings that you sit in are either
unnecessary or at the very least inefficiently run.
So, how do you make sure all your meetings are productive and efficient?
Check out these 8 tips on how to run a perfect meeting.
So, number one, figure out if the meeting is even necessary in the first place.
Some things by their very nature just not good use of group time.
So, if you're trying to get feedback on an extensive document, for instance,
something like that might be better handled offline.
The idea that you're going to be able to get meaningful review and
comments during the meeting from 5 or more people is pretty ridiculous.
On the other hand, if items are sensitive or require significant back and forth
they can be a great use of meeting time.
So, number two, and this is a big one,
is ensure that only the key people are invited to the meeting.
Now remember, meetings are resource intensive.
They take up people's time. And most people mistakenly think
that if you schedule a one-hour meeting on the
calendar and say the meeting is not productive then you've only lost
one hour of time, but in fact, you have to look at it in terms of
the number of people-hours exhausted.
So if you have five people in your meeting and you've had a one hour meeting
that's not one hour of wasted time.
That's five hours of wasted time. And from there it's pretty easy to quantify
how much a meeting is costing either your company or your clients, depending
on how your business is set up. Just multiply those person hours by the
salaries or your billable rate.
Now it's tough to do this one because it
sometimes can ruffle feathers when you have to either disinvite people or leave people out,
but the fair way to do it is to assign delegates from each department
so that you have one person representing from each group or department that their
job is to represent that team
and then filter that information back to them make sure that their interests
are represented, and so on.
Number three, set expectations with meeting attendees. Have a clear objective
and an agenda for the meeting.
You really need to think about what the meeting purpose is.
Do you want to decide something?
Do you want to gain buy-off on something?
Do you want to get input on something?
You need to have a clear idea of what
the objective of the meeting is.
And more importantly, you need to actually communicate that to the people
who are in the meeting so that when they get there or even before, ideally,
they know why they're there.
Now for shorter meetings of 30 minutes, or maybe even an hour,
a written agenda isn't necessary in the meeting for everyone, but beyond an hour
you absolutely need, not only in a written agenda that sent out ahead of
time, but one that's actually in front of the participants during the meeting.
And on that note don't beholden to typical meeting times of 30 minutes
or an hour just because that's what your calendar tool automatically sets.
You may need a face-to-face meeting but it doesn't mean that you need a full 30 minutes
Maybe a 15-minute touch base where you just quickly get in the room
look each other in the eyes and decide something.
So, number four, and this is a tip
that I really appreciate, is that the meeting actually starts when the invite is sent out,
not when the physical meeting starts.
There's a real opportunity to help make a meeting way more productive
if you learn appropriate ways to engage your
invitees even before the meeting happens.
So, for example, let's say that you have something that you want to get people's
feedback on. Say you have a 25-page slide deck
you want to walk people through.
Now, do you think you're going to be more
successful in getting feedback if you schedule a 30-minute meeting and just
walk through it and give people five minutes to comment? Or do you think it's
going to be more successful if you actually you know
give people a week heads up,
send that deck out a week ahead of time,
set really clear expectations that they
need to provide feedback and discussion in that meeting? Now, go a step
further and ask them to not only read that deck but to provide feedback half a
day before or a day before the meeting.
Not only do you make the meeting time
really productive, if you do end up having a meeting,
but, assuming that everyone has similar comments
or everyone's aligned on feedback for that thing
that you were going to discuss, originally,
you may not even need to have a meeting.
So, number five and this is closely
related to the point we just talked about, you may want to consider
pre-wiring meetings that involve important or particularly sensitive topics.
And I wanted to thank Bruce over at projectmanagementhacks.com
for introducing me to this term.
I've done this before but I never really knew the word for it.
And essentially the idea is if during a meeting you want to always get
alignment, you want to get collaboration.
You don't want any surprises you want it,
you don't have any land mines, essentially.
So, if the topic that you're
dealing with is a particularly sensitive one or particularly critical,
you may want to consider using that pre-meeting time like we were talking
about earlier, but approaching some of the key players who are going to be in
the meeting and trying to gain alignment even before the meeting happens.
It can just be a quick check-in, a little drop by or drive by and you kind of preview
the issue or the topic or the point of view that you're going to
share in the meeting and get their thoughts on it. Because if you can
kind of hash out any issues that they might have, get alignment from
them ahead of time, it's going to go a long way
in terms of making for a smooth meeting later.
Number six, actively manage your meetings.
So, even if you've gone to the trouble of
putting together a perfect agenda
you still have to actively manage that meeting to make sure that you stay on track.
Now of course if real magic is happening and there's some great ideas
and great synergy that's happening in the meeting at the time, you don't want
to snuff that out necessarily. But a lot of times, and I'm sure you're familiar with this,
people will bring up tangential ideas that,
sure, it's a great idea but it's kind of off topic and off agenda.
So, the trick for that is actually using the parking lot method, where you can
just use, you know, a corner of the whiteboard or if you have one of those
flip chart sheet things. Just capture that in a parking lot and get them to
focus again on the agenda.
So, your job as meeting facilitator is to not only make sure that you stay on
topic and stay on track, but to make sure that you're getting equal
representation from the attendees in the room. And that means that you do have to
interrupt sometimes, but you can do that delicately, though.
So, for instance you could say something like,
"Listen Bill, you made some really really good points here,
I actually want to hear what Jane has to say about this as well,
and then we can maybe come back to some of your ideas at the end, okay?"
So, number seven,
and this is absolutely critical, is agree on the next steps that need to be
taken during the meeting and then document them.
So, as meeting organizer you need to be the one to say,
"Okay guys, so I just want to make sure that I'm clear,
Bill is going to follow up on this, right? Right Bill?"
And then following the meeting, what you want to do is actually
send out a quick meeting summary and document
those next steps and who is responsible.
It really goes a long way in making that meeting time really actionable and productive.
Now, the final point,
tip eight, and this is a pretty advanced tip.
So, I used to bring donuts to meetings all the time, and actually there was
one client that I did it with in particular. It was so consistent that
it started being this running joke with them that
the marketing director would say, "Oh, I see Kyle and I start salivating."
And so I would always bring this pink box of donuts
and it was kind of like bringing a gift each time.
And it was always exciting because they knew they were going to get
their sugar rush when it came. So, we always had a good laugh and then it was
just kind of a nice way to start each meeting with a smile.
And with your internal team, yeah sure, you could look at it as bribing them with sugar.
But I'm telling you, it's amazing what people will do for donuts.
So, remember not every topic is worthy of a meeting, but if you do need a meeting
it's critical that you follow these tips to make sure that all of your meetings
are as efficient and productive as possible.
And if there's other tips and tactics
you've used to make meetings more productive, let me know in the comments.
Well, I hope you found this helpful.
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And finally you can download a copy of my free PDF guide,
48-Hour Gentleman: Your One-Weekend Plan to More Confidence, Poise and Manly Know-How.
Thanks again for watching and I'll see you soon.