Let’s face it: meetings are not always fun. They are often too long, not focused and just let the loudest person in the room talk the most. Worst of all, meetings distract the team from getting things done. Yet, our days are often stacked with meeting after meeting.
I’m not suggesting meetings are all bad. To the contrary, meetings that help the team have a discussion and reach consensus on an important issue are well worth the time. So we can’t get rid of meetings altogether. However, with the right mix of tools and tricks, we can drastically reduce the number of meetings and make meetings shorter, avoiding frustrating for the team and letting them focus on their jobs. Consider these suggestions to see how to have a productive meeting:
1. Change the default calendar time to 20 minutes
Most calendar applications make the default meeting length 1 hour long. That is quite a long meeting! Most discussions do not need nearly a full hour. Instead, consider adjusting the settings so the default length is significantly shorter. By setting the expectations that you will only be meeting for 20 minutes, it forces everyone to stay on topic and get to important decisions quickly.
2. Stand up rather than sit down
For particularly short meetings, the “standup” meeting has become popular. Since standing is less comfortable than sitting, keeping everyone standing will ensure you get through the discussion promptly and get back to work (where everyone is presumably sitting down at desks).
3. Do status updates in writing
Always avoid having a meeting that consists of each person sharing status updates. That should be done in writing (you can use a tool like Weekly Update). Whether it’s each week’s progress, problems and upcoming plans, or it’s specific tactical updates about a project, it’s always more effective to capture that information in writing. Save the meeting time for discussing specific issues that were brought up in the written update.