Tips For Running Effective Meetings
Jeff Weiner ask his team to identify their biggest productivity killer and inevitably two issues raised to the top of the list:
- Managing their inboxes
- Managing their meeting schedules
At LinkedIn, they have essentially eliminated the presentation. In lieu of that, they 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.
- Just because the material has been sent doesn’t mean it will be read.
- They begin each meeting by providing attendees roughly 5-10 minutes to read through the deck.
Once participants have completed the reading, it’s time to open it up for discussion. There is no presentation.
With the presentation eliminated, the meeting can now be exclusively focused on generating a valuable discourse: Providing shared context, diving deeper on particularly cogent data and insights, and perhaps most importantly, having a meaningful debate.
If the material has been well thought out and simply and intuitively articulated, you may be pleasantly surprised to see a meeting will be over after 20-30 minutes.
Of course, even the best prepared material may reach a highly contentious recommendation or conclusion. However, the good news is meeting attendees will now be able to dig into the subject matter and share their real opinions rather than waste time listening to an endless re-hashing of points….
The following are a few additional practices That Jeff has learned along the way when it comes to running effective meetings:
1. Define the objective of the meeting. Asking one simple question at the onset of the meeting, “What is the objective of this meeting,” can prove invaluable in terms of ensuring everyone is on the same page and focused on keeping the meeting on point.
2. Identify who is driving. Each meeting needs one person behind the wheel. The primary role of this point person is to ensure the conversation remains relevant, that no one person ends up dominating the discussion, and that adjunct discussions that arise during the course of the meeting are taken offline.
3. Take the time to define semantics (and first principles). So many meetings go off the rails by virtue of semantic differences. Words have power, and as such, it’s worth investing time upfront to ensure everyone is on the same page in terms of what certain keywords, phrases, and concepts mean to the various participants.
4. Assign someone to take notes. This should not be the equivalent of a court stenographer documenting every word uttered, but rather someone who is well versed in the meeting’s objectives and who has a clear understanding of context that can capture only the most salient points. This can also be particularly valuable for invitees who weren’t able to make the meeting.
5. Summarize key action items, deliverables, and points of accountability. Don’t end the meeting without summarizing key conclusions, action items, and points of accountability for delivering on next steps. Have the discipline to ensure attendees sit tight and remain focused while next steps are being discussed and agreed to.
6. Ask what you can do better. Gather feedback at the end of meetings by asking whether or not the attendees found it valuable and what we can do to improve it in the future. There is no better way to ensure the meeting is necessary. If it’s not, either change the objective and/or format, or take it off the calendar.