Recently an MIT article took the saying, “That meeting could have been an email”, to a whole nother level by coining a new phrase, meeting recovery syndrome. Where employees lose additional time mentally recovering from a bad meeting. Damn.
Although very few of us have formal training in meeting management skills, SEO experts UK can all apply tips from the 40, 20, 40 rule to run meetings our colleagues actually look forward to attending. Let’s get started. Come for the career tips and stay for the meeting recovery syndrome cure.
How to Fix Meetings
The 40, 20, 40 rule first mention in the book How to Fix Meetings, essentially states 40% of the time should be spent preparing for meetings another 40% on productive follow through, and only 20% dedicated to the actual meeting itself.
My first step for the preparation phase is the go/no-go test. A meeting is unnecessary if any of the following are true. First, the information being shared is an update. Second, key decision makers are unavailable. If you need a hundred percent alignment, even if one person can’t make it, cancel and reschedule. And third, feedback does not need to be provided in real time.
Rebranded A Marketing Campaign
Recently we rebranded a marketing campaign and the project manager solicited a list of ideas from each teammate offline before letting us vote on the final three choices during a team meeting. Great use of time, we decided in less than five minutes. Speaking of who should join, tip number two for running effective meetings is don’t over-invite.
The rule of thumb here is to only include one representative from each department or function affected by your project. They’ll be responsible for gathering input from their teams and bringing those insights into the meeting and then briefing their teams on the decisions and next steps afterwards.
Pro Tip For You
If someone doesn’t have action items at the end of the meeting, they probably didn’t need to be there. Tip number three for running meetings that don’t suck is something I call the OC combo. Nope, not that OC, as much as we like Seth, but rather Objective and Context.
These should be sent ahead of the meeting via email and included in the calendar invite for easy reference. Although there could be multiple objectives for a single meeting, each objective should be actionable and results oriented. In this example, the objective is clearly stated, finalize the one live stream platform to use for our year end event.
Product Marketing Teams
The context, our product marketing teams have used four different vendors for live streaming this past year, each with their pros and cons. We need to settle on one for this last event. Click here to see an analysis comparing each platform. Not only is it super clear for all meeting participants but notice how you’re respecting their time by giving them the option to learn more.
Busy senior managers can just scan the objective and move on. Those more involved in the operations can scroll through the context, go through the pre-read document as needed. Pro tip, grant access to any files you add to the calendar invite before they’re sent out. I’m probably gonna get a lot of hate for tip number four, because people think it’s try hard, but I think it’s super effective and I call it the Pre-Alignment Appetizer.
Long story short, you wanna get the meeting participants’ buy-in before the meeting, the main course, itself. Either through a ping, an email or even a quick one-on-one meeting. A meeting before a meeting, Jeff, really why the (beep) would I do that? This tactic is extremely effective because your colleagues are much more likely to be upfront about their concerns during this offline, one-on-one chat.
Giving you the opportunity to address any complications before the meeting. To give an oversimplified yet very accurate example. Imagine you’re working with three people and they would’ve each raised one separate issue during the meeting. By pre-aligning with each one of them you successfully address one and make progress on the other two.
Meeting To Find A Solution
You use a meeting to find a solution to the remaining one issue before moving onto your agenda, instead of having to deal with all three and risk the discussion getting out of hand. If we’re being honest with ourselves, the reason we don’t do this more is because it’s extra work. They’re our colleagues, they should be helping out. But it’s precisely because pre-aligning with them shows we don’t take them for granted, that they’ll take the meeting even more seriously.
Moving on to the during phase. The fifth tip for running effective meetings is inclusive facilitation. Here to prevent a few individuals from dominating the discussion, you wanna use tools to give everyone a chance to provide their input. For example, you can use Mentimeter, Sli.do, completely free online tools to run polls and create word clouds When brainstorming ideas.
This way, even participants who are not comfortable with raising their hand or unmuting their mics, will feel heard and as a result, be more engaged with your topic. Tip number six for meetings that don’t suck. Use the parking lot. During the meeting, if someone brings up a great point, but starts going off on a tangent. – It’s whoever, not whomever. – No it’s whomever. – No, whomever is never actually right.
You wanna capture that idea on a whiteboard or in the meeting notes, the parking lot, then bring people back on track. The trick here is to actually follow up or people will lose trust in you. For example, a manager I recently worked with said, “that’s really interesting. Let me pencil that in during our one-on-one later this week, and we can bring up our findings during the next weekly update.” Which I thought was a great way to phrase it.
Call People Out
Yep, I said it. At the end of a meeting when next steps have been agreed upon, first take the lead and share your own action items. Then confirm next steps with each participant by mentioning their name. Using their names instead of vague terms like, “Okay, so it’s all agreed, We will move towards this direction.” Gets rid of any room for miscommunication and prompts your teammates to clarify any ambiguity before the meeting ends.
Send A Concise Meeting Summary
One line of pleasantries, one or two key takeaways that capture the main point of the meeting. And of course action items that, again, are tied to individual names. Pro tip, if it’s a weekly project update meeting use one email thread so previous discussions can be easily referenced. I actually include this email template on my website for you to download. Link down below.
Running Effective Meetings
Running effective meetings is to prepare something I call After-Action Comms. For example, if a sales POC, Point Of Contact, is supposed to brief the sales team on next steps, draft an email or slide for them to send to their team. Not only will this ensure nothing gets lost in translation, but you have literally decreased a friction for your colleagues so much so that they will definitely take action, helping you push your agenda forward.
The Most Try-Hard
The most try-hard one so far and that is a tried and true method used throughout the ages, bribery. I can feel some of you shaking your head in disgust and hovering over that unsubscribed button. But in my experience, bringing coffee, donuts, snacks to the meeting, immediately lightens the mood and the rule of reciprocity means the participants are now much more likely to buy into your ideas. If you found these tips helpful, you might enjoy my video on how to have productive one-on-ones with your manager. See you on the next video. In the meantime, have a great one.