Make Your Meetings Better

Empty meeting

In the past I’ve wrote about status meetings and why you should avoid them. As a basic productivity rule, you should replace meetings when emails or calls will do.

But there are many cases, where you wish to have a meeting in order to: brainstorm, inform, decide etc’.

How can you make it more productive?

  1. Block your mornings – Start by a simple and effective rule: “No meetings before 11am”. If you are creating (design, development etc’), your most productive time is in the mornings so block it for ‘real work’. In my last startups, we blocked the mornings (except from a short 10min standup) and had all the team after lunch.
    This way, each developers/designer/PM could have their ~3h of productive time each day.
  2. Set Agenda – You should inform participate what is the goal of the meeting at the beginning. It’s important, to set the goal and time blocks so it’s clear to everyone how much time we have to discuss things and when we are wrapping up and take the decision.
  3. How many people are going to be in the meeting?
    • If the goal is to solve a problem – around 5 people with deep understanding will do.
    • If you wish to make a decision – Send data to all the stakeholders before the meeting, gather their insights and invite the top 5-8 people.
    • If you wish to brainstorm a new idea, program, initiative – invite up to 25 people and make sure it’s a diverse group.
    • If it’s too complicated, you can follow Jeff Bezos’s “two pizza rule” — if the group is larger than you could feed with two pizzas, your meeting is too large, period. The main thing is to invite only those people who truly need to be there and can contribute.
  4. Shorter is better – Try to set the default time to 25min and you will see that more meetings are more productive.
  5. Hear everyone – If someone is not participate or they are ‘just’ quite, try to ask them for their opinion. When everyone get involve it’s (usually) better.
  6. Notes – Make sure that you have meeting notes and someone is taking them. This is a great tool to make sure everyone are on the ‘same page’ (literately) after some challenging decisions are been made.
  7. Do the homework before the meeting – In many cases, you can inform everyone with documents and get lots of feedback on the topic. This is useful to topics that are complex and many stakeholders have insights. It will make the meeting more productive as you can resolve many issues on the document even before the meeting started.
  8. Try to do your 1:1 as a 25 minutes walking meeting. It’s good not only for the mind but also for your soul.

A good related article on the topic is Fast Collaborative Decision Making.

Anything else I’ve missed?


A suggested trail for your next 1:1 meeting


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