How to Stop Having Unproductive Meetings

- Worker Happiness

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by Sam at Management 3.0

May of us have love-hate relationships with meetings (some hate more than love). With virtual meetings becoming the norm during COVID, there were a slew of do’s and don’ts and new rules that everyone had to adapt to.

But in this blog we’re not going to differentiate between virtual or in-person when it comes to meetings. Whether you’re watching through a screen or physically sitting across from someone, there are some universal ‘dont’s’ when it come to having successful meetings. First, we’ll deal with the don’ts and then some dos.

What should you NOT do during meetings?

1: Speak just for the sake of being heard: While it’s important to make an impression, it’s not enough to say something that doesn’t add value, just for the sake of feeling like you contributed. Repeating other people’s thoughts or bringing up a topic that isn’t relevant for the moment, just to show you have something to say, can have the opposite impact. It’s better to say less so that when you do contribute people feel like you’ve genuinely thought about what you’re saying. 

2: Qualify your Questions: Don’t make excuses for your questions. There’s no such thing as a dumb question, there is such a thing as making a mistake by not asking the question. Own your questions because it’s likely that other people are wondering the same thing and might even thank you for it later. 

3: Come Unprepared: Whether you’re leading a meeting or just attending it, it’s important to come prepared. If you’re in charge, review the materials, prep at home, do a walk through and know what you want into discuss and how long you’ll take for each topic. If you’re listening to it, try to get as much information as you can in advance so you know what questions you want to ask and what further clarity the meeting can provide. Asking questions that shows you’re listening and have put thought into what you’re doing, is just as important as delivering a polished presentation. 

What Should you do during Meetings?

As we discuss at length in our Better Meetings module which you can dive into more by taking one of our workshops, there are several, easy things you can do to have better meetings. Starting with:

#1: Make meetings visual: Visual meetings are not only more fun than normal meetings, they are also more interactive and productive.

#2: One topic per meeting: Meetings should not be systematic. They make sense when the topic or issue is challenging or emotional, and there is a need to address the concerns of your co-workers.

#3: Make decisions, even if they’re imperfect: Getting traction on a single thing is far more useful than touching on many without forward momentum on any.

#4: Shorter meetings are more productive: Use solution-focused approach: Shorten meetings focus on actions and not on the problem.

#5: Encourage the clash of ideas: Too often, people strive for consensus which leaves fertile ground uncovered. In a good meeting, people get fired up arguing their points.

What do you do to have better meetings? Share your thoughts in the comments below or contact us.

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