How To Hack Your Meetings

strategies Nov 28, 2018

One of the best tools businesses can use to move forward is having productive meetings.  I talk to shop owners every day who give me the excuse “I’m to busy to have a meeting”. I ask them if they could tell their staff they were to busy to do payroll, so they are going to have to wait to get paid. Of course, the answer is always “no!”  Productive meetings are as important as payroll. Please notice I said “productive!”

Do you know how many meetings are happening on any given day? If you guessed, over 11 million you would be correct! It is safe to say that a good percentage of these meetings are just a waste of time. I know I have been in some meetings that have been rough to sit through let alone keep my eyes open. Here are a few tips to getting the most out of the meetings you lead so that they are productive, meaningful, and actionable. In other words, here is how we can hack your meetings!

Remember how I mentioned meetings that are difficult to sit through or stay awake in? These meetings are missing the most important tip: Set A Goal/Purpose For The Meeting. Now, this does not mean jam pack the meeting with a five-page to-do list. Keep this purpose on the straight and narrow, this will be the heartbeat of your meeting. Now that you have an idea for the purpose of your meeting. Think to yourself, “Does this have to be a meeting or can I just email my request?” This is a powerful question, many times meetings and phone calls could be taken care of with a simple email. So, you have decided the goal is important enough for a meeting. Now it’s time to communicate this goal with your team. Include your meaning for the meeting in the invitation and again before the meeting starts. This will make a great soft opening and allowing everyone to be on the same page.

Not only is setting a goal for a meeting important but inviting only relevant members to the meeting is equally as important. You probably read that and said, “yeah, no kidding.” It happens more than you think, people are sitting in meetings that their time could have been better spent on a different task (fixing cars, selling service, ordering parts). This goes hand-in-hand with your purpose, think to yourself “how will this person help me achieve my goal of this meeting?”. If you are trying to make a decision at your meeting only invite the key decision makers.

Before your meeting, you will want to prepare an agenda or a schedule. Not knowing where you want to steer the ship beforehand can severely waste time. Visual aids are always a plus. Again, keep your purpose in mind while you are creating your agenda. Do not be surprised when sidebar discussion comes up, every meeting has them. When this happens you will want to table the discussion but ensure that you do not forget about the sidebar. They could be important to your employees and if they go unnoticed it could affect the employee's effectiveness in the next meeting. Just like the purpose, the agenda or schedule should be sent to all invitees before the meeting.

To battle groupthink, you will want to get productive input from your team. By definition, groupthink is the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages creativity or individual responsibility.Keep your opinion to yourself. If your team gets even the slightest hint that you have already pre-determined the outcome it will drastically hinder the productivity of your meeting. You want to keep your discussions open, encourage people to communicate, and it is your job to make sure everybody is heard.

When your meeting is coming to a close, you will want to end with a plan of action. You will want to recap the discussions that were held as well as the outcomes of those discussions. Basically, the who is doing what. Add these into your visual aids and resend it with a brief synopsis of what happened in the meeting. Ensure you follow up with your team after this action plan has been in place. If your meeting requires a follow-up, the meeting brief will now serve as your start point.

Last but not least, start your meetings on time, no matter who is in the room. It’s equally important to end the meeting on time.  We will be digging deeper on how productive meetings can move you out of your rut and into the having the business of your dreams.

To your success,

Greg Bunch