With the emergence of clever tools like Slack and Active Collab, the need for holding meetings every other day for the smallest thing has become radically reduced. Skype calls, group chat (and sometimes even paper planes) have all eradicated the era of spending more hours in meetings than out of them and for that we’re all probably grateful.
That said, we’re still firm believers that sometimes a meeting is the best way forward. After all, no emoji can adequately portray your disdain for a colleague’s ‘No Shoes Friday!’ idea quite like your face can. What’s more, meetings bring your team together and allow you to bounce ideas around and clear up any confusions there and then. There’s no waiting for a message to come back because their attention is elsewhere and no chance that the Skype connection will cut out and leave you talking to yourself for ten minutes.
So, meetings without doubt still have value, you simply don’t need to have so many. High fives all around, right?
Well maybe. After all, just because you’re having fewer meetings it doesn’t necessarily mean they are good meetings. That’s why we’ve developed the top three ways of making meetings more meaningful.
1: Keep on Topic
We’ve all been there, one moment you’re trying to explain how one project needs extra attention, the next, Jackie from accounts has mentioned she’s thinking of starting an amateur dramatics group for Star Wars fans.
OK, so the above is an extreme example but meetings really do fall into this trap of straying off topic all the time. This is mostly because an issue you are trying to highlight sparks a memory in someone else and they feel an almost desperate urge to share.
Meetings are of course the place to bring up problems, but it is important to make the structure of the meeting clear from the start. Outline what will be discussed during the meeting and the conclusions you hope to come to by the end of it. Only when the meetings purpose has been addressed should additional issues be covered.
2: Meeting Manners
The etiquette of meetings is tricky, you usually have a room of people, all with slightly different priorities and little time to get everything resolved. Because of this, it’s vital that everyone gets a chance to speak and that no one hogs all the attention.
Similarly, because there are usually so many things to get through during a meeting, it’s crucial that everyone gives it their full attention. Too often meetings are interrupted by someone checking a Twitter notification, having a side conversation with a colleague, or wondering what the best superpower would be.
Not only is it basic manners to give someone else your full attention when they’re speaking (we’re talking primary school 101 here) but it also follows that if you’re holding fewer meetings generally, then the ones you do attend will be important and relevant.
Meeting etiquette usually falls short because people feel very comfortable with their colleagues (which is great, honestly, we’re all for camaraderie) but the problem with comfort is that you can sometimes forget these basic manners.
Meetings, like any work interaction, should be handled with professionalism and that way bad habits don’t develop and become the norm. Our top tip? Always pretend the Queen is present. In a jaunty hat, of course.
Don’t Just Meet, Do!
Yes...yes i know it sounds awful...yes, look can you just open the tuna and I'll be on my way?
Rambling is the ultimate enemy of meetings. Time is spent carefully laying out the problem, venting the frustration about the problem before everyone realises that there’s only fifteen minutes to go before the meeting should finish.
This type of blunder is easily done and is the reason many meetings lose their purpose. Whilst the explanation of a problem is of course necessary, it is only required once, rather than reiterating in a variety of ways by different team members. And whilst venting is understandable, it’s ultimately pointless and can be saved for when you return home to your partner, puppy or plant.
The point of a meeting is to inform and progress, and it is those two things that should be the focal point, so if rambling (which often masquerades as ‘discussing’) is starting to take over it’s imperative to nip it in the bud quick so that the real work can get done.
So, there you have it, if you eradicate the derailment, discourteous behaviour and the ramblings, you can have meetings that have meaning, rather than meetings that happen simply for the sake of it. Remember the three top tips for keeping those meetings meaningful:
- Keeping on Topic: Hold up a warning sign whenever you feel a topic derailment
- Meeting Manners: Pretend that the Queen, complete with a jolly hat, is present.
- Don’t Just Meet, Do: Save venting for your cat or your cactus.