Many of us dislike meetings. Some of us kinda hate them.
Meetings are often a waste of time. Especially when we have a pile of actual design work that is due.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
You can make your meetings organized, focused, and effective to make them suck way less.
1. Ask yourself if you really need the meeting
Do you even need the meeting in the first place, or will an email or chat thread solve the problem in a more efficient manner?
2. Schedule as little time as you need (or less)
Please—for the love of all that is good—restrain yourself from using the default 1 hour setting. Why is 60 minutes so magical? Also, some of us need to pee at some point during the day, and back-to-back 1hr meetings take this basic human need off the table.
If you think you’ll need the full hour go ahead and set it for 45 minutes anyway. Don’t round up or cushion the time (“I don’t think we’ll need the full hour but I scheduled it in case”). Don’t be afraid to send a 15 or 30-minute invite. You might be surprised what you can get done if you don’t fart around.
3. Handle your tech
Demonstrate that you are a professional by having the tech sorted before the call. Jacking around with microphones or screen-shares during the meeting is not the way to look like a boss. Can anyone hear me?
4. Show up early
This one is obvious but often fumbled. Showing up late sends a bad message and makes you look like a noob. If you’re on-time you’re late.
5. Have an objective
Who likes receiving, attending, or sitting through a meeting when they have no idea what the meeting is for? Nobody.
Start the meeting by stating the objective so people know why they are there. Include this in the meeting calendar invite. People need to understand the outcome to ensure that that the meeting makes sense.
If it isn’t worth your time to type out an objective, then it isn’t worth anyone’s time to attend your meeting.
6. Have an agenda
If your meeting is longer than 15 minutes, have an agenda. Nothing fancy, just a few bullet points will suffice. This will guide the conversation and keep people on track. Include this in the meeting calendar invite, and keep the meeting on-track by following the agenda and start the meeting by running through the agenda bullet points.
7. Takeaways with names
Guide the conversation in a way that states the takeaways from the meeting. Recap at the end of the meeting what the action steps are and who is doing what as a result of the meeting. Without a name to accompany a takeaway, nobody is going to take action on that item.
8 Practice active listening as needed
Repeat back to people your understanding of what you think they said when things get confusing. A simple “what I hear you saying is…” can work wonders for clear communication and understanding.
9. Provide “time-checks”
Keep the meeting on track and ending on time. When time is starting to run low feel free to take an advantage of a break in the conversation with a friendly toned “quick time check, we have 10 minutes left”. People who have work waiting for them at their desk will be grateful you respect their time.
10. Send out notes
Recap the meeting by sending out some short bullet-list notes on the decisions made in the meeting. This helps server as a reference later and helps avoid an additional meeting a week later to discuss the same thing which everyone forgot.
The meeting game is usually so weak at most companies that you can quickly build a professional reputation for yourself at your job as the one who knows how to have a meeting.
If you need to have a meeting, go do it right.