A vital part of your role as a leader is to communicate, influence and facilitate agreements. Most of the time this is achieved by running and attending countless meetings. I don’t know about you but spending most of my time in corporate meetings used to drive me up the wall. There were far more valuable and interesting things I would rather be doing.
Today, I am going to share with you ten hacks that will cut your time spent in meetings. They may seem a little harsh, but I would imagine you have tried the nice ones.
These hacks are written as if you were the meeting organiser, but you should also use them to challenge the organisers of the meetings you are invited to.
Reading Time 2.5 mins
HAck 1 – Do you need to have it?
Before booking a meeting in the diary, ask yourself, do I need to have this meeting or is there another way to achieve the same objective. Can you –
- Have a quick conversation with each of the group
- Have a group chat using instant messenger
- Use email
Hack 2 – Do you need everyone in the meeting?
Meetings with less people tend to run quicker and smoother. Ask yourself what value each participant brings to the meeting. No value, no invite.
Hack 3 – Allocate Minimal Time
There seems to a corporate culture that assumes meetings should be 60 minutes. Set up the meeting in the calendar and allocate the least amount of time you can to achieve your objective. Ideally fifteen minutes or thirty minutes if you have to. It will focus you and the participants, especially if they have a meeting afterwards.
Hack 4 – Minimise Multi Tasking
In today’s world of distributed global teams and working from home, most meetings take place on conference calls. During the meeting, some of the participants will be reading their emails or checking their phones rather than giving you their full attention. I have been on so many conference calls where people who are typing have been asked to go on mute. Sound familiar?
At the start of the meeting politely ask the participants to give you their full attention and not check their emails. If you hear someone typing, then ask them to leave the call as they are not listening anyway.
Less participants will multi-task during a face to face meeting, but if they do, call them out on it.
Hack 5 – Batch
A lot of the time, you have meetings with the same participants. Can you batch up everything into one weekly or monthly meeting
Hack 6 – Six Minute Rule
A client of mine use to have a six-minute rule. The meeting would always kick off 6 minutes from the start and he would not stop and repeat anything if someone was late. Have you own rule.
Hack 7- Stand Up
Another client had a raised table in his office with no chairs to ensure the meeting attendees would keep it short. Can you do the same?
Hack 8- Minimal Agenda
Draw up an agenda and ask yourself if each agenda item is critical or just a nice to have. Cut it down to the bare minimum to achieve your objective.
Hack 9 – Don’t Go Through the Pack
Distribute the pack before the meeting and explicitly inform the participants you will not be going through it in the meeting. Set the meeting with a title of Question, Answer and Decision Session. If they turn up and have not read the pack, stop the meeting and reschedule.
Hack 10 – Keep on Topic
If someone goes off topic, politely stop them and tell them what they are saying is interesting, but it is not moving you towards the outcome you want to achieve.
You Snooze You Lose
Are you enthusiastic about trying some of these hacks and cutting your time spent in meetings?
The trouble with enthusiasm is that it has a half-life. You have to act now.
If you are at work, then add a short cut of this post to your desktop. Each time you set up a meeting or respond to a calendar invite, open this post and follow the ten hacks.
If you are not at work, then cut and paste the post link and send it to your work email.
To finish off with a a bit of a laugh, watch the funniest and worryingly realistic video I have seen about conference calls – https://youtu.be/kNz82r5nyUw