5 Ways To Improve Your Meetings
Joshua Davidson wrote this article
It’s time to have a serious discussion about meeting etiquette.
Listen, I know that a lot of individuals give meetings a bad rep. I hear the complaints every single day. It’s a waste of time, some people say. It isn’t productive, others say. We can have better use of our time doing something else rather than being in constant meetings throughout the day. Your time is worth more than the other person that you have a scheduled conversation with.
So, let me just respond to all of this criticism at once. Stop this. Stop this mindset. Stop this bullshit. You’re part of the problem. You are not providing a solution. It is time to change this. The reason why you hate meetings is because you have never mastered the fundamentals; it’s that simple.
I should be someone who hates meetings. I spend somewhere between eight to ten hours a day in meetings on average. Normally, this means somewhere between 5-10 meetings per day. Personally though, I absolutely love them. Ask any of my team members, my clients, my friends and colleagues in the industry. I am addicted to them. I can’t get enough of them. They generate my company revenue and they bring us new clientele. They help me form new connections. They help us get on the news, in the media, across social media. They motivate me. They inspire me. They pump me up. They allow me to work more efficiently. How, you’re probably wondering? Easy. Let me break down the core fundamentals for you all as to why how (and you’ll see why that I love meetings):
1) Respect Your Time
This is arguably the most overlooked fundamental when it comes to meetings. How many of you setup a meeting just for the purpose of having a meeting? Because somebody asked you to setup a call? The next time this happens, ask yourself, seriously ask yourself — does what I am trying to setup warrant a meeting, or can it be resolved/discussed in a quicker manner via email, text, HipChat/Slack or a quick thirty second phone call? If any of those seem more attractive, face the facts, a meeting is not necessary.
I think one of the things that you often see is someone that is too scared to tell the other individual that a meeting is unnecessary. Don’t be. Be upfront and transparent about it. Explain that another method will be more productive to accomplish what is needed. People want to utilize their time to be most productive. Time is our most important resource. It isn’t infinite. You can always make more money, but you can’t grab more time. Be wise about it. Respect your time and what you should be focused on.
2) Respect Their Time
Following the item above, you need to respect the other party’s time. One of the things that makes me sick to my gut is when someone does not appreciate the time I am spending with them. They run incredibly late. They want to talk about items that weren’t necessary for that particular discussion. They cancel last minute.
Listen, I’m going to keep this simple. People’s times are valuable. I am not some high honored, hold me to the highest of standard individual. With that said, I am busy too. Think about the thousands of things someone could be doing with their time. Spending time with family. Focusing on their health. Working with their team. Talking to the media. Working on the endless items on their to-do list. We are all busier than every before thanks to this digital age. Respect someone’s time; don’t be rude.
3) Understanding The Purpose Of Your Meeting
Have you been in a meeting before, talking about a dozen different things? Hours go by, and though it has been incredibly busy, you don’t feel like much has been accomplished. This is a major issue behind why people don’t enjoy meetings. They do not understand the purpose of their meeting and spread themselves way too thin. Trying to be busy for the sake of being busy.
I don’t believe in agendas. Having a few items to discuss is fine; having a ten page agenda is not. If you require an agenda, you need multiple meetings assigned to specific topics. People get burned out. People need time to focus on important items. Setup your meetings to talk about key points, main discussions, and stick to them. Utilize each other’s times to get things done, quickly. Jump right into discussions, explain exactly what needs to be covered, and cover it. Save extra discussions for separate meetings. Prioritize through time sensitive items and those that are the most important.
4) Keeping The Attendees Simple
This is the biggie. How many meetings have you been in which held multiple attendants, only having 1-3 people handling 95% of the discussion? It’s time to trim off the fat.
One of the things I believe is that companies try to cram in as many people as possible, thinking it will keep everyone in the loop, someone will contribute something unexpectedly, or perhaps utilizing their team in numbers to impress another. Just stop because you’re wasting time and therefore, money.
Think about this. I handle all new client discussions personally. My team isn’t involved. Not because I do not trust them or love them — but because their time is more valuable getting work done and handling our existing clients. These are clients that typically have budgets between $25,000.00 to $500,000.00(+). Having them in these discussions just adds numbers, wastes their time when they have nothing to talk about for the hour a call might be happening, and is costing me money by both them working (but doing nothing) while not focusing on something much more vital (and fitting their skill-set). It is all about opportunity cost. Don’t make the same mistake with your company. Keep the attendance list simple and only to those who are directly involved that can contribute to the conversation.
5) Don’t Be Late
Seriously you guys. I shouldn’t need to be typing this one. Go back to point one and two. Time is valuable. You know what I think when someone cancels on me last second (unless you know, it is a true, valid excuse) or just doesn’t frankly show up to a call, especially after confirming? I think they are rude and unprofessional. It is that simple. We all have hundreds of things to do and making our time for each other, the limited time that we have. Try to always be there. Follow the famous saying, “being early is on time, being on time is late, being late is unacceptable”. I shouldn’t have to explain this one twice. Don’t be that person, ever.
By following these fundamentals above, I can guarantee you that you will fall in love with meetings. Not only will they be more productive, but you will be utilizing your time in a significantly better way. You will be focusing on results, not just talking for the sake of hearing each other’s voices. I love meetings. I love the people I get to engage with. I love the opportunities that come out of them. I am addicted because it brings us success as a company. I understand though when a meeting is warranted vs. when any other form of communication is more practical. Know the difference too. Make meetings your ally, not your foe.
I’d love to hear your own fundamentals that can improve on the above items — or perhaps, whether you agree or disagree. Please make sure to share your feedback and thoughts in the comments below!