Rules for effective meetings

How often did you sit at meetings that, having exceeded the duration of 2 hours, tried to solve all the problems in the world at the same time? When people, red with stuffiness, losing their temper from fatigue, begin to try to shout at each other in an attempt to find the right solution? When each meeting ends in nothing, and all the participants swear to themselves that they will never again gather for these meaningless meetings?

Original article:

What is the effectiveness of the meeting?

If we apply the popular logic of calculating the return on investment (ROI, return on investment) to evaluate the effectiveness of meetings , we get something like the following:
Efficiency of the meeting = value of decisions made / (time of the meeting * number of participants * average salary of the participant)

Obviously, by increasing the value of the decisions made (the numerator) and reducing the meeting time and the number of participants, as well as trying to minimize the time of highly paid people (the denominator), you can maximize the return on it. Despite the fact that trying to optimize each of these parameters, you will already achieve considerable success, there is an interconnection between them and skillful balancing by them is not an easy task, which is not achieved by many leaders.

Therefore, the meeting is quite a costly thing, which rightly earned itself the fear and hatred among office workers. The same emotions apply to the organizers of these meetings, including you. If you want to earn the respect of your team, you must be able to conduct effective meetings.

This article is about teaching you how to get the most out of your meetings with minimal time and emotional loss for the participants.

Meeting preparation

But is a meeting necessary?

“Meetings are a symptom of poor organization. The fewer meetings, the better. ”- Peter Drucker,“ Effective Leader. ”

Meeting ROIs are often less than a call, chat, or instant messenger. Meeting is needed only in those rare cases when other ways of communication will be less effective. As a rule, several of the following conditions must match:
  • Complexity. The topic under discussion is so complex that participants need to look at visual materials together so as not to fall out of the discussion thread. For example, discusses the architecture of database entities or the complex business process of validating a loan application.
  • Urgency. The topic under discussion is so urgent that the development of an action plan on this topic by e-mail will cost an unacceptably large amount of time.
  • Importance. The topic under discussion is so important that its importance overlaps with any possible time spent by the group members on holding the meeting.

In other cases, you can safely refuse to collect the meeting.

No need to assemble meetings for the wrong reason. If you are:
  • you want to shift the responsibility for the problem to the group,
  • looking for listeners for your ideas or
  • do you want to strengthen the team

then look for other ways to communicate.

Clearly outline the purpose and agenda

Like any other undertaking, without a clearly defined purpose, the meeting is doomed to failure.

The purpose of any meeting is an action plan. Not “discuss the possibilities”, not “solve the problem”, but “instruct such-and-such to do such-and-such by such a date”. Any other goal setting may result in the meeting having no consequences.

Therefore, when making an appointment, we clearly listed the participants, an action plan to resolve which problem or problems you want to receive, and sent them the resulting agenda. A written agenda will allow people to make sure that they do not spend time in pointless discussions, and the issues discussed will be related to their area of ​​interest.

In case there is not enough time allotted for the meeting, the issues on the agenda should be sorted in descending order of importance (then you will have time to discuss the most important) or in increasing complexity (then you will manage to close the maximum of questions).

Do not invite extra participants

Each person at the meeting will inevitably spend time with his speeches and questions, whether from a sincere interest in the problem or just to justify his presence. Moreover, the likelihood that an additional person will know something that others do not know decreases with increasing number of participants. That is, in addition to the obvious increase in group time costs, an increase in the number of participants reduces the effectiveness of the discussion.

It is recommended not to exceed the border of 5 participants. Each participant should be sifted through the following "sieve" of questions:
  • Does he have exceptional subject knowledge that other meeting participants do not have?
  • Does the topic under discussion affect his interests? Does his interests coincide with the interests of any other participant?
  • Is this person ready for a constructive discussion?
  • Is it enough to simply notify this person of the results of the meeting?

Holding a meeting

The meeting organizer, that is, you, is responsible for ensuring that his goals are achieved. You should:
  • monitor compliance with all discussion rules described below
  • interrupt those who violate them
  • summarize the decision of the group
  • follow the agenda and determine when the group moves on to the next question

So, 7 rules for holding effective meetings:
  1. One says ... Don't let the participants interrupt each other. Not only is this a manifestation of disrespect, so most likely, at the time of simultaneous speaking, the participants are not trying to understand each other, which is not good for the meeting as a whole.
  2. ... and everyone else is listening. The key to effective discussion is for everyone in the group to keep track of what the group says. Everyone should have the same "picture" of the problems being discussed. As soon as the group breaks into several discussions or someone begins to get distracted (for example, checking mail on the phone or just “getting over it”), further time will be lost until the group becomes a whole again. Everything that happened while someone was “absent” would have to be repeated for him, spending all the rest on that time.
  3. Get to the point!  Despite the fact that, when tired, people want to relax and talk on abstract topics, any such withdrawal to the side spends the time of everyone involved and puts you away from reaching a solution. Gently bring everyone back to the topic of discussion.
  4. Fight the problem, not the people.  In the heat of discussion, participants can allow themselves comments that others may perceive on their own account. Such situations, if they are not extinguished in the bud, will inevitably spoil the working atmosphere, create unnecessary tension, “disable” the affected participants, spend time and, most likely, prevent the group from achieving their goals. Immediately stop discussions that have gone "wrong".
  5. Record everything said. This can be done by you or another participant to whom you assign the role of secretary of the meeting. Without fixing, the group will begin to forget the facts or conclusions that have been made, and the effectiveness of the process will inevitably fall. In addition, the recordings help the group save time by allowing the speaker to simply point to one or another part of the recordings instead of explaining in detail which particular of what he has already said. Fixation should occur on a sheet of paper that is visible to the entire group, or on a board hanging on the wall.
  6. Take breaks.  Use  the tomato method  (work in cycles involving a 5-minute rest every 25 minutes of work). In my experience, meetings lasting more than an hour and a half completely lose their effectiveness due to the tiredness of the participants. It is better to interrupt such meetings, moving the continuation to another day.
  7. If the group is no longer needed, disperse. As the problem is discussed, there are fewer and fewer complex issues requiring general discussion. If you understand that the problem has split into several tasks requiring individual execution, it makes no sense to spend the total time on a group discussion - the meeting needs to be completed. If it is too early to finish the meeting, but there are already people whose knowledge will not be required in further discussion or whose interests will no longer be affected, let them go.

End of meeting

At the end of the meeting, return to its goal - developing an action plan (aka the minutes of the meeting). This protocol should:
  • not exist verbally, but in writing
  • prevent various interpretations
  • be written in a language that will be understood in two months
  • for each item contain the person responsible for the execution and term

Send out (you or the secretary of the meeting) the protocol to all participants and those responsible - this is another step towards meeting the expectations.

Also popular now: