Tips to run more efficient meetings:
- Don’t bloat participants: Invite only the people needed to drive the decision.
- Send async updates to the rest of the team on asana/slack. Trust me, your team will love you for not wasting their time with unnecessary meetings.
- Share the meeting agenda early. If you are not sending an agenda, then it means you are getting into a meeting without knowing what you want out of it. I make sure all my meetings have an agenda in the description. If the objective of the meeting is not clear, it is your fault as the meeting organiser.
- Discussion around various topics in a meeting is time boxed.
- If is your job as the meeting organiser to keep the participants focused on the agenda. Don’t encourage people to digress.
- All relevant docs should be shared in the meeting invite. It gives participants to have a look early, and form an opinion. I always welcome async discussions over in person meetings.
- How the actual meeting runs: Meeting organiser discusses agenda/gives intro for the 5 mins. A mix of silent reading followed by discussions on open items happens next. There is a buffer time of around 10 mins at the end.
- During the silent reading section, people read the docs and leave their comments. Organiser can choose to reply during the section, or keep it for oral discussions post the silent reading. Ideally small items should be resolved in the silent reading part of the meeting, and only big items which need more consensus, should be tackled in the discussion later.
- During the discussion post the silent meeting, the organiser responds to the comments/open questions left in the docs. People might stack too.
- Post discussion, the meeting organiser repeats the main points discussed, including the action items, so that everyone is aligned. If all open items could not be resolved, a follow up meeting is setup.
- Organised sends the MOM within an hour of the meeting while the discussions are still fresh.
- MOM is also posted on the Product spec, Asana card, and relevant slack channel. Err on overcommunication than people missing important updates.
- Follow up on action items as prescribed in the MOM blogpost.
- The Decided should always be present in the meeting. Define the decider through DACI framework.
- Align relevant stakeholders before the meeting. People might call it backchanneling, but I call it stack holder management. I like to give important stakeholder access to the docs much before the “hero meeting”, and also hear and reply to their concerns. This approach leads to less unpleasant surprises in the actual meeting.
- Framing the discussion well is 90% of the job in a meeting.
- If you attend a meeting without: an agenda, knowing your preferred outcome, and how you will get that, then all of these will be driven by someone else, mostly by the HIPPO. What you think of as organization politics is often always you not doing your homework.
A few good posts I have read on meetings:
- The Silent Meeting Manifesto
- 6 Must Reads to Run Fast, Efficient Meetings
- Reaching Peak Meeting Efficiency
- A Simple Rule to Eliminate Useless Meetings
- How to persuade people in a large ‘hero’ meeting
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