How – and When – to Have Better Business Meetings
We have all had that thought: “This meeting should have been an email.” At their best, meetings are a collaborative tool like no other. They encourage teamwork between employees, allow for immediate problem solving amongst teams, and provide a sense of togetherness and inclusivity. The desire to take advantage of these benefits can quickly lead to an overabundance of meetings. When employees are constantly preparing for or participating in them, it leaves less time for actual work, leading to unnecessary stress and resentment.
This problem existed before the current Covid-affected business environment but has become exacerbated because of it. With so many team members now working from home, the desire to meet via video or teleconference has only grown. Meetings are happening for simple updates that would be better given by, yes, an email. The desire to connect, while well-intentioned, creates an unnecessary interruption to the workday with a cost to productivity.
An overabundance of them does not mean that meetings should not happen. The takeaway should be that they need only occur when it is in pursuit of a decision or to the benefit of everyone involved. Here are some things to consider before sending out that meeting invitation to avoid that dreaded thought of “this should have been an email.”
- What’s Your Super-Objective?The concept of a super-objective is a popular character analysis tool in theatre and film. It is, simply put, the overarching goal a character is working towards throughout the entirety of their story. Every action or decision they make, however minor, is meant to help them accomplish this super-objective.The super-objective is a handy concept to think about when considering scheduling a meeting. What is the super-objective or ultimate goal of the meeting? Is it in support of a tangible, ultimate goal, or might it act in opposition? In other words, what problem are you trying to solve, what outcome are you trying to achieve, and who needs to be involved in solving it? The super-objective of a meeting should always be to accomplish a larger objective – not simply to force everyone into the same room.
- Consider Other Options.If your team is working from home, some of the unnecessary meetings you are having are undoubtedly an attempt to replace quick face-to-face conversations. When attempting to catch up or get progress updates, there are likely better options than a meeting. Collaborative tools can replicate the experience of being in the same room and lets people do so on their schedules.Shared conversation channels like those provided by Slack, Skype, Microsoft Teams, and others can replicate the face-to-face (whether in person or video) exchanges meetings typically create. Using a shared Google document you can edit in real-time is an easy (and free) conference room whiteboard alternative. A quick email, phone call, or direct message is a great way to request an update without having to check calendars. Remember to ask yourself if a meeting is necessary or if an alternative would better utilize your time.
- Use an Agenda.If you are having a meeting, make sure you have an agenda. Many meetings meander and become frustrating due to a lack of adherence to an agenda. The best ones do the following:• List and summarize each agenda item• Set a specified amount of time for each item• Designate a discussion leader for each itemThese three steps can help steer your meeting and make sure that everyone stays on task. You can make adjustments like allocating additional time for follow-up questions or discussion. Ultimately you want to be respectful of everyone’s time. Making sure your meetings remain organized and tightly structured is a great way to ensure that occurs.
Like you would any business tool, use meetings in a way that maximizes their effectiveness. By ensuring they occur only when necessary, you can make sure they retain value. Finding alternative ways to collaborate lets your team collaborate at a pace better suited to their schedules.
At AccessDirect, we dedicate ourselves to improving how businesses communicate within their organizations and with their customers. Since 1997 we have helped small businesses sound bigger and more professional. Our cloud phone systems, virtual phone numbers, and features like voicemail to email and business text messaging are a few of the ways we help. Contact us today to find out how we can help your business communicate more efficiently!