Hello, my friends.
This week, we continue our six-part Productivity series. These are lessons from our archives that are tied to the subject of productivity. In this lesson, I cover a strategy whereby you can take back control of several hours a week. This is a practical and highly effective lesson – and one you can begin using immediately. Comment below the blog because, at the end of the series, I’m going to choose one winner from the commenters who will receive my Top 10 Productivity Tips mini-course absolutely free (a $47 value).
Today, I’m going to give you one of my favorite lessons. Why is it a favorite? It is because, if applied, it can free up several hours of your week and increase your productivity considerably.
Now as some of you know, I am an executive coach. I do all kinds of sales training and leadership training, but I also facilitate corporate offsites. Today’s lesson came out of a corporate offsite where I got incredible feedback from the client.
About a month ago, I did a corporate offsite where, during the meeting, there was an observation made that, “Man, we are knocking these issues out of the park!”
One person in the group made the observation that I was there facilitating that, making sure we were staying on track – that we had an agenda, were following the agenda, and people were not segueing, or having sidebar conversations. He observed that we were staying focused on the stated objective and goal.
Another commented, “Wow, I wish our meetings at the office were this effective.”
During our lunch, they asked, “What are your secrets for running an effective meeting?”
Now you’ve heard them before, I am sure, but my suspicion is you probably don’t do them, so here are some reminders that will save you time.
There are Only Five Types of Meetings
1. Status Update Meeting
An information sharing, reporting, or status update meeting. These are often reports to management or leadership.
2. Problem Solving Meeting
Some type of problem solving, innovation, or brainstorming meeting.
3. Team Building Meeting
Teamwork makes the dream work. These important meetings build solidarity and camaraderie.
4. Work Meeting
This is a “We are not here to report; we are here to get some work done” kind of meeting. The goal of this meeting is to do data analysis, debate certain subjects, or otherwise make progress toward a group goal.
5. Decision Meeting
The definition of success for this type of meeting is to make a decision on a particular strategy or idea. This is one where you might say, “There’s a decision that needs to be made, and nobody’s leaving this room until we make that decision.”
The teaching is this: Refuse to go to meetings that don’t pass the test for an effective meeting.
And what is the test for an effective meeting?
Ask Yourself These Five Meeting Filter Questions
1. What is the agenda?
If there is no agenda, you don’t go to the meeting. The meeting leader may ask you, “Hey, how come you didn’t come to the meeting?” You can simply say, “There was no agenda. I only go to meetings that have a preset agenda.” Now if your boss is the one setting the meeting, you’ll probably want to rethink that and go to the meeting anyway. Don’t be a no-show for your boss – I’m not suggesting employment suicide. But you may later respectfully suggest that, going forward, meetings have agendas, and make the case for them.
2. What is the definition of success of the meeting?
3. What type of meeting is it?
4. What is the purpose of the meeting?
5. What is your role?
Effective meetings also have a stated role for the participants. If there is no role for you to play, say, “No, I’m not going to the meeting. You don’t need me to make that decision or drive that process.” More often than not, people invite others to meetings just to keep them in the loop. Well, guess what, you can keep up to speed and “in the loop” by simply reading the minutes or the summary email without having to be in the meeting itself.
Five Ground Rules for Meeting Conduct
1. Map it.
This goes back to having an agenda. Go into a meeting with a plan.
2. Stick to the map.
One big meeting time waster is getting off track. Have you ever been in a meeting where the conversation segues, and then segues on segues, until someone finally says, “Hey, wait a minute. What was this meeting for? And how did we get here?” This is the power of having an agenda. It helps you reconnect the dots and get back on track. Have someone monitor adherence to the agenda.
3. Minimize or eliminate sidebar conversations.
These are very disrespectful and very disruptive. If you are the leader of the meeting, let people know there are to be no sidebar conversations. They can have those discussions after the meeting, but not during the meeting.
4. Take notes.
Have someone be the minute-maker and then distribute those notes to those who were in the meeting and other concerned parties. Note action items and deadlines.
5. Start on time and end on time.
This should go without saying, but if you have run a meeting through your filter and have determined you do need to be there, show up on time. And if you are the leader of the meeting, end on time. Every minute you go over is that minute times everyone in the room. If you extrapolate that times the salary of every person in the room, you will see that starting and ending on time not only saves time, it ensures the company’s funds are being used for true productivity.