As we mentioned last week in Meeting Madness, we hear a lot of complaints about meetings. We hear that there are too many, they eat up the bulk of the workweek, and most of them are ineffective.
From our perspective, the only reason to get 3 to 5 or even 10 or more people in a room is so that when they leave, they’re able to be more effective and successful.
They leave with information that creates confidence.
They leave feeling they have influenced decisions that are important.
They leave having solved issues that were in the way.
They leave ready to create greater success.
To support you in creating winning meetings, we’ll be covering these topics in the upcoming weeks:
- Auditing your meetings (today!)
- Creating a winning agenda
- Assigning key roles
- Setting up key rules
- Staying on track (even when they derail)
Today, we’re going to discuss how and when to audit your meetings. We encourage you to first make a list of your meetings (download the attached template to get you started).
Then, look at whether or not each of them has the right reason, the right time, and the right people.
THE RIGHT REASON
- The right reason means that you have a reason for getting together. Sometimes it’s to plan for something, other times it’s to make a decision and still other times the reason may be to support the culture of the organization.
- The “right reason” means that there is a clear and understandable purpose for bringing people together to work collaboratively. The purpose might be tactical, as in, “We need to review the 1st round of graphics” or it might be more strategic like, “we need to determine the tone for the next campaign.”
- If you can’t define the purpose, you might want to rethink the meeting and either give it purpose or get rid of it.
- If you’re not in control of the meetings, it’s also okay to check with your manager (or the meeting lead) to understand the purpose of the meeting and to determine if your participation is appropriate. Of course, you want to do this respectfully and with a sense of leadership about the work you could be accomplishing if you weren’t in so many meetings.
THE RIGHT TIME
- Timing is everything—both frequency and length. Whether you’re a team leader or own a small business you might think that you should meet frequently to show progress AND sometimes, that can backfire. Meetings that are poorly timed often feel like meetings for the sake of meeting.
- Go back to your list of meetings and think about the timing of the meetings. Are they relevant to the day-to-day activities? If you’re meeting about something that is too far into the future, it might be premature to meet about it today or it may be imperative to meet about it today to lay the groundwork.
- The right time is also about the length of the meeting. We’ve found that when people shorten their meetings, they’re more efficient in sticking to the purpose while still achieving what they set out to.
- Take a look at your meetings and consider shaving off 15-30 minutes on a trial basis and see if you’re still able to cover what’s needed.
THE RIGHT PEOPLE
- Good meetings have the right people in the room who need to be in the room. Sometimes too many people are brought into meetings, even when they may not have anything to contribute.
- Go back to meeting list and make sure that you know who needs to be part of the conversation.
- To decide that, it’s probably most helpful if you look at the purpose of the meeting. If you’re talking about sales, it might be very important to have the sales team there, but it might also make sense to have marketing there.As you can see, one topic could mean that you need different players, so determining the purpose of the topic will really help you decide who to include.
How often should you audit your meetings? We suggest every 6-12 months or earlier, if something major has changed (personnel, goals, budgets, etc).
It’s important that you don’t take up hours of people’s time if the need no longer exists. Conversely, auditing will also give you a chance to consider if there is a meeting that needs to happen that’s not currently scheduled.
Be sure to include your connection meetings in your list (whether it’s to start them or continue them).
Meetings are important – they facilitate discussion, allow you to share information, offer an opportunity to inspire passion, commitment, and support, and create space for shared visioning and planning. They also open time for laughter, building history and creating a sense of “we,” where people walk away aligned behind a goal.
This week, spend some time reviewing the meetings you currently have in your schedule and see how well they fit the framework of the right reason, the right time, and the right people.
Here’s a link again to a template to help get you started: Meeting Audits
Let us know how it goes!