Two things happen at your typical meeting. One person’s giving a presentation, while others try hard not to doze off. And then there’s always that one person trying to look smarter than he is.
But that’s not how meetings should be. Employees should feel motivated to attend meetings and actively take part in the discussion. But that hardly happens.
Linkedin’s CEO Jeff Weiner thinks that scheduled meetings are the biggest productivity killers. “At LinkedIn, we have essentially eliminated the presentation. In lieu of that, we ask that materials that would typically have been presented during a meeting be sent out to participants at least 24 hours in advance so people can familiarize themselves with the content”, he says.
Every meeting should have a purpose, says Weiner, and it should run just as long as it takes to get the business done. But it’s easier said than done. How to ensure the next meeting will be productive and attain every attendee’s attention?
Ideally, meetings can be of three types – information dissemination, assignments, and idea generation. Employees should be aware of what type of meeting they are attending, so that they can be mentally prepared to absorb information, take assignments or share ideas. The categorization method will also minus the need for going over the background of the meeting.
Information dissemination and assignment meetings can be often be replaced by email chains.
Limit the number of attendees to only those who are directly involved with the purpose. There is no need to endorse your leadership to the entire team at meetings. Limited number of people will also minimize distractions.
15 minutes rule
We can have good attention span only for about 15 minutes. Beyond that point things tend to get muddled inside the head. Carry a timer at meetings and make it a point that no one rambles on for more than 15 minutes.
Stick to the agenda
Even if you email the agenda of the meeting to the employees, make sure to have a written copy at the meeting. This shows you are holding the meeting for a significant reason and value your staff’s time. Use the 15 minutes rule to cover the meeting’s agenda and make sure not to repeat points or go off the topic.
Everybody stand up
You can experiment with making a few meetings, a standing meeting or informally a “Huddle or a scrum”. In comparison to meetings where people sit back, reiterate points and get weak in the knees, standing meetings are quicker, and hence more efficients and action-oriented.