Productive Meetings Part 1
How to use meetings as a powerful tool, part 1 of 2
Think of a meeting like it is a tool. It is indeed the best collaborative tool an organization or team has at its disposal. It’s super powerful!
However, at the same time, meetings are very often being made fun of. There are countless sneering memes on the internet and numerous sighs flood the office every time an invitation to a meeting arrives.
So why are meetings being mocked so much actually? If they are so useful, why do people hate them with such intensity?
Well, the answer is quite simple and, in fact, typical for many great things in our lives that go unrecognized:
People have no idea how to use it.
And just like guns or sarcasm, if you don’t know how to use them, they can do a great deal of damage…
No goal? No need for a meeting
In this part, let’s focus on the only essential thing, a must-have for every meeting — the agenda.
If you feel there is a need for people to get together, if you organize a meeting, always create an agenda! You set a goal for the meeting through the agenda and give it a purpose.
Because if there’s no goal, there is no need for a meeting, right?
Attach agenda to the big meetings as well as to the smallest one-to-one meetings — it can be as simple as one sentence or a few bullet points. Even if you think how clear and straightforward the purpose of the meeting is, always create the agenda for it. No exceptions.
How creating the agenda helps the organizer?
Crafting the agenda is a thinking process through which you create a mental model of the subject you want to tackle during the meeting.
It can be a problem you aim to solve, an idea you want to discover further, or a state you wish to change.
During the thinking process behind creating the agenda, you come to realize for yourself what information you actually need and what are the desired outputs of the planned meeting.
You formulate and shape the agenda to best fit the purpose of the meeting and what you really need to achieve.
Tip: Take a look at your calendar. Choose one meeting that you organize and which doesn’t have an agenda attached — try to think of one. Ask yourself:
What is IT that I want to achieve? If I’m not sure, does it still make sense to have a meeting? If yes, what could be the best structure for the meeting to reach its goal? What do I hope to get from the invited people — and should I invite all of them? Am I not going to waste anyone’s time?
How the agenda helps participants?
Through the agenda, you communicate what the objectives of the meeting are. And why is that important? Well, not surprisingly, you allow the participants to prepare ahead.
For the participants, the agenda represents a guide to what needs to be done and what is expected from them. People can think about it, gather relevant data upfront, draft the variety of options available, and in a focused way approach the objectives.
The agenda eliminates empty chatter and makes the meeting more productive. Share the agenda and increase the chance of actually achieving something.
A meeting with no agenda means that the organizer doesn’t know what needs to be done and what should be the outcome of the meeting. But what's the point of having a meeting then? How about to figure it out first, and only then ask people to attend and spend their time there?
Meetings with no agenda are disrespectful to all participants! Time is a limited commodity and must be spent wisely.
Agenda makes meetings more productive, shorter, and helps to have fewer meetings in the future. Ultimately, the agenda saves time.
This piece was written by Martin Dušek, Division Director at ACTUM Digital.